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7 Steps To Take Today To Become A Better Leader

Growing and learning as a Leader, especially a Business Leader, is a lifelong process. However, there are small steps that can be taken immediately that will boost your ability to lead. The more you intentionally take these steps and practice them, the more natural they will come to you.

1. Actively Listen

The top way to build trust and loyalty with your team is to listen to them. This is not a “let me stand here silently until you’re done talking so I can share what I want to share” type of listening. Active listening takes focus and patience. It requires the listener to completely silence the world around them and focus their attention on hearing and understanding what the other person is saying and not saying with their words.

Finding the time to listen actively can sometimes be a challenge as it often competes with other demands on our time. To make sure you are taking time to listen, schedule out short 1-on-1 meetings with each of your team members so that you consistently and regularly have the opportunity to listen.

2. Practice Empathy

Empathy is the ability to see things from someone else's point of view. The roadblock to empathy is judgment. Practice withholding judgment and instead acknowledge that you hear what they are saying and that you can understand why they would feel that way. The act of validating what your team is feeling and experiencing will build stronger bonds and trust.

3. Ask More Questions

To accomplish the first two items of listening and using empathy requires more asking and less telling. One of the most empowering questions you can ask as a leader is:

"What do you think we should do?"

The next time you want to tell an employee what to do, try asking this question first. If their answer provides a constructive solution, reinforce and build confidence in their own ability by providing them with the autonomy to implement. If the answer is not the right action, the situation then becomes a coachable moment. Continue with follow-up questions that seek to understand why they would take those actions:

“Why would you take that approach?”
“What alternative solutions would you consider?”
“How do you weigh one approach against another?”

4. Clearly Communicate Expectations

One of the top reasons why good employees quit is that they don't know what constitutes good performance. Conversely, one of the top reasons why lower-performing employees continue to underperform is that they also don't know what constitutes good performance.

Have clear conversations with each member of your team about their goals and expectations. Establish ownership along with an accountability process. Keep in mind that if an employee does not explicitly accept ownership over their goals, they cannot be held accountable to them.

5. Delegate Tasks

The purpose of a business leader is to steer the ship. If no one is focused on steering, the ship can easily go off course and become lost. As much as possible, look to delegate the tasks that keep you from getting the business to where it needs to be.

Some tips on how to delegate:
Choose someone whose capabilities include performing the task you are handing off to them.
Communicate the desired outcome clearly
Communicate the desired timeline clearly

Remember, much like active listening, delegating is a learned skill. The more you do it, the more effective you become at it.

6. Allow Room For Failure

The fastest way to learn how to get really good at something is to make mistakes. When you delegate, you need to give your team the space and the safety that you understand mistakes are how we grow and that you will coach them through it.

Indirectly this also creates a culture of trust and openness where the team shares their mistakes quicker and more openly, allowing for more timely solutions.

7. Remove Criticism from Feedback

A focus on the positive, or what you want to accomplish, is much more rewarding and motivating than the focus on the negative. Handing out criticism might make you feel good in the moment, but it is rarely helpful to accomplishing goals, and it wreaks havoc on trust. A focus on what's working and what can be done better in the future keeps the team on track.

If this is you and you find yourself needing help help in your business, contact us. We're here to help you implement this into your business.


Derrek Hofrichter

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