There’s so much talk about leadership: what it is, the best skills and traits, mistakes to avoid, and how to be great.
Truly, there is no lack of information on leadership. Quite frankly, it can be like drinking from a firehose!
Of the many ideas and techniques spelled out in numerous books and articles on leadership, through my experience working with leaders from all walks of life, I’ve found the following 3 things to be the most effective for all leaders.
1) Build in time for self-reflection Are you mindful of what you want, how you feel and how you want to feel, what kind of leader you want to be? Do you pay attention to what pushes your buttons and what inspires you? Are you aware of what others want, how others feel, and how you impact their world?
There is no cookie cutter approach to leadership and there are many ways to be a great leader.
The first thing we need to do as leaders is to know and accept ourselves. Then we can align our actions appropriately, and respect what others need from us. This will lead to us to our best results.
When we set time aside to reflect, we lessen reactive behaviors we might regret later. So take 10 minutes to reflect at the end of each day. What went right? What went wrong? What will you do differently? Reflect on Monday morning as you commute to work. Get yourself in the moment and think positively about the day and what’s ahead. Create that mindfulness for yourself.
Then also remember to be in tune to other people. Take 5 minutes to check in with them. This shows your team that you care, and it builds trust. You also get an idea of what’s going on and you can more quickly course correct if necessary.
2) Genuinely give of yourself to others Before you can genuinely give, you must be aligned and respect yourself and others. That’s why self-reflection is the first thing to do. Giving will come more naturally.
How do we genuinely give of ourselves? I mentioned checking in with people. When you practice true self-reflection as mentioned above, you take on a more positive intent.
You want to help others.
There are many simple ways throughout the day to check in and genuinely give to your team. Being present, listening with empathy, acknowledging others and following through are some of the simplest ways.
And hey, if reading this makes you realize that you used to do this but you’re currently not, just the awareness of it may get you back in the habit.
If you find that you resist checking in with people, you most likely need to go back to number 1 and really think about your intent. Why are you in a leadership position? What is your purpose? If you need help, my recent book Leading With GRIT, is a great resource. Chapter 2 helps you reflect on your truth, and chapter 5 is all about generosity and giving.
When we give because we want to, not because we have to or because we are expecting something in return, everything changes. You’ll soon discover more people stepping up and wanting to help you.
3) Focus on one skill that you need to improve, and GET. DISCIPLINED. Maybe you need to improve your listening skills. Start by visualizing what you would be like if you had superb listening skills. How would the people on your team react? How would it impact productivity?
Visualizing trains your brain. Most of our behavior is a result of our thoughts and beliefs. When we believe we are a good listener, through visualizing it, we begin to act like a good listener.
Take some time to reflect on why listening is so important. When you fully believe in the purpose, it provides even more passion and commitment to your goal - in this case, of being a good listener.
Discipline plays an important role too. If you’re not a fan of discipline, just think, it shares the same root as disciple. So you can become a disciple of good listening! Make it your focus. Get people you trust to give you feedback. After you were in a situation that required listening, reflect by asking yourself what you did right, what you did wrong, visualize what you’ll do next time, and why it’s important.
Before you know it, you’ll never even remember the days when you strived to be a good listener! And I’m willing to bet you’ll have enhanced relationships, less stress, more team engagement and increased productivity, too!
Do you think these tips will help you become a better leader? Share your thoughts in the comments!