Any good employee wants to learn and grow, and the same goes for any good leader. Improving your attitudes and procedures can maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of your leadership. Instead of stagnating, flex your leadership muscles to improve your abilities and your team’s morale.
A listening ear is important in any position, but it is absolutely essential for any leader. Perhaps you’ve inadvertently put your team’s suggestions on mute, or maybe you’re starting to only hear what you want to hear. No matter the case, recognizing any aloofness is the first step to overcoming it. The next time you speak with a team member, try and listen for hidden meanings. Is the project too overwhelming for just one person? Are team meetings running too long? Respond to these issues and ask employees, “What do you think is the best course of action for this situation? What can I do to help?”
Recent surveys have found that employees crave attention, not feedback. While feedback is important for growth and success, attention is important for morale and relationships. For every bit of constructive criticism you offer a team member, make sure you’re balancing it out with praise. This 1:1 ratio ensures you boost morale and avoid diminishing returns. When employees realize that you’re noticing them, they’ll be much more receptive.
You may have seen web graphics or articles explaining that bosses instruct from a safe distance while leaders jump into the front lines. Employees, as you can probably guess, prefer leaders to bosses. Leading by example is the best way to lead, and helps you maintain and improve your own work ethic while helping your team and company. If your team has to stay late one night to put finishing touches on a project, stay behind and offer assistance. If you don’t want your team members leaving the coffee pot empty, make sure you refill it before bringing the topic up at the next meeting. It’s the little things that make a big difference.
Sometimes, the truth can be scary—not just for employees to hear, but for leaders to deliver. Maintaining an open and honest working relationship with your team members is the fastest way to gain their trust and respect, and will go a long way when working interdependently. Many say that “honesty is the best policy,” and in this case, that’s absolutely true. If you’re honest with your team members, they’ll be honest with you. This reduces communication issues and increases interpersonal bonds.