Leading is simple
There is no shortage of books, blogs, podcasts, training programs, courses, or degrees that will tell you about the complexities of leadership and how to create great leaders. The advice can sometimes be daunting. They say you must reflect, self-analyze, and subject yourself to a million assessments. Then you have to learn how to analyze the team with a whole new set of theories and methods, right? Is it really that complex? Maybe, maybe not.
Simple Techniques to create great leaders
I know you’re busy, so let’s keep this simple. Here are some ways to create great leaders:
1. Be helpful
Your team is super busy. They are tired and very likely overworked. That means they are stressed out. Stressed out people need a helping hand on occasion. That’s the type of simple gesture that stops stress from becoming burnout. They don’t need fake praise or huge bonuses. What they really crave is a simple recognition of a job well done, and a little help when needed. So, stop by and deliver a well-earned attaboy, ask how you can help, listen and advise, roll up your sleeves and actually help them!
2. Be willing to listen
You’re smart, that’s why you’re the boss. I get that, but they don’t need you constantly trying to share your expertise. What they need is for you to be a great listener so that you can figure out precisely the expertise you need to share. The more you listen, the more you might learn a ton of new things that can help you relate to them better. Not to mention the fact that people trust and respect or good listeners – that’s priceless, especially when the team is expected to adopt new things or create change.
3. Be kind
You won’t always feel like it, but you have to try! You set the ceiling for the experience of positive emotions in the group. If they need a pep talk, give it. If they need a glass half full comment after a rough day, offer it up. And if nothing else, smile and tell them it’s okay and that tomorrow is another day when they need to hear it. You didn’t know it when you signed up, but being positive and helping others feel positivity is a central part of any manager’s job.
4. Be fair
Treat everyone the same in terms of creating a positive workplace with clear expectations. Treat them differently based on their performance, attitude and demeanour, and their willingness to go above and beyond when needed. Never play favourites. Always make expectations clear and provided needed resources. That’s fair. The more the team senses that you’re playing by the rules, the more they listen, the more they commit, the more creatively they find ways to get the work done.
5. Admit your mistakes
This is one of the most potent ways to earn respect and build rapport with the team. Stop acting like a know-it-all and find a few times each year to share stories about times you experienced setbacks. Tell them about your error, how it hurt you, the emotions you experienced, and how it produced valuable learning that helped you develop. Learn to laugh at yourself! That’s the type of authenticity that builds strong professional connections. It makes you more approachable and encourages a learning orientation in others.
Leadership might get complex at times, but mostly you just need to keep it simple. Sure, there are a million ways to think about it and a never-ending number of skills to build – but start with a focus on the basics. Remember to be helpful, to listen, be kind, be fair, and to admit your mistakes. If you’re sincere, they will start to believe in you. That’s when leadership becomes more about an evolving dialogue between you and the team, not a thing you alone have to deliver from on high. Better leadership, stronger team, higher performance – it’s simple.
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Dr. Todd Dewett is one of the world’s most-watched leadership personalities: a thought leader, an authenticity expert, best-selling author, top global instructor at LinkedIn Learning, a TEDx speaker, and an Inc. Magazine Top 100 leadership speaker. His insights have been sought after by the world’s leading publications, including the New York Times, TIME, Businessweek, Forbes, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, US News & World Report, CNN and many other outlets. After beginning his career with Andersen Consulting and Ernst & Young he completed his PhD in Organizational Behavior at Texas A&M University and enjoyed a career as an award-winning professor and scholar. Todd has delivered over 1,000 speeches to members of the Fortune 500, billion-dollar organizations, and household names, including recent clients Google, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Pepsi, Boeing, General Electric, IBM, Kraft Heinz, Caterpillar, Brother, and hundreds more. His educational library at LinkedIn Learning has been enjoyed by over 30,000,000 professionals in more than one hundred countries in eight languages.