There's no question that you're the boss — after all, it's your business. But are you a good leader? Leadership is about more than giving orders to the people who work for you. It is about gaining the trust and respect of your employees, as you inspire them to perform successfully.
Qualities of a strong leader
Whether you're starting a new business and becoming a boss for the first time, or you've been managing for years and you're looking to improve your leadership skills, there are new things you can learn, and behaviours to work towards. Effective leaders often posess a healthy mix of the following identifiable traits:
It's vital that you believe in yourself. Show that you know what your goals are, and that you know how to achieve them. Your employees will feed off your confidence and enthusiasm.
Have a vision for the team as a whole. Keep your employees in the loop; they'll be motivated by their knowledge of the big picture going forward. Their prosperity is directly aligned with your plans for success. Stress the "team" angle; every member of the team is as important as the next. Make everyone's success your common goal.
You can build a relationship with your employees based on trust and reliability when you communicate effectively. This is a two-way street; listening to what they have to say and allowing for input is as important as getting your own messages across. They want to know where you stand: be honest, fair, and straightforward. Give feedback when it's needed, and be open to answering questions or providing coaching if necessary.
Recognize your employees' strengths and weaknesses, as well as your own. Rather than micro-managing, empower your employees to grow into roles that play to their strengths. Whenever possible, give them the opportunity to shine, with you as their biggest fan.
Part of being a good manager is being adaptable and adjusting for change. While you want to provide your employees with a certain level of autonomy, you need to stay true to organizational policies and procedures. Being flexible allows you to get the most out of your employees while keeping them productive and fulfilled.
It is human nature to want to be acknowledged for one's efforts. When an employee receives positive feedback and appreciation, it boosts their self-esteem and can motivate them to continue their good work. Appreciation can be shown in many ways, but should always be done thoughtfully, and if possible, in person.
While it's common to assume that some people are "born leaders" and have good people skills, the truth is that anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort can improve their leadership potential.
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