Having a unique out-of-the-box idea is rare. What is rarer is having the ability to execute that successfully and that is what demarcates the leaders from the dreamers. Regardless of your age, the capital at hand, or the logistics – the moment you decide to do all it takes to execute your plans, you have taken the first step to becoming a leader. While some are born leaders, others can hone their leadership qualities and there are some common habits of successful people that make them authorities in their niche. Let’s take a look at 10 such awesome, actionable habits that make a better leader.
#1 Give and take honest feedback: As leaders you know honesty counts more than anything. Speaking of feedback, while you probably encourage your employees to tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear, take a moment to analyze if you really encourage these occasions in the positive light that they deserve. Honest feedback is directly linked to employee engagement. Research reveals that leaders who ranked at the bottom 10% in their ability to give honest feedback to employees received employee engagement scores averaging 25% while those in the top 10% for giving honest feedback had employees who ranked at 77% in engagement.
#2 Master the art of delegation: Working long hours and feeling as if you solely own every task? It’s a clear sign of under-delegating. The art of delegation is a critical leadership quality, yet remains one of the most underutilized time management strategies . As a leader, it is important to convey your vision to your team and get them to buy-in. Nurturing a team that is able to forth in your absence is a sign of strength, not weakness. Short of internal resources to take up some of your work? Thanks to the internet, you can now hire a virtual assistant and delegate anything – from personal to professional tasks, and that too at a fraction of the cost required for a physical assistant.
#3 Communicate loud and clear: You have the vision clear in your head, but do your team members have the same clarity? Poor communication could cost your company much more than you think – as found by a survey that revealed companies having leaders who are highly effective communicators to have 47% higher total returns to shareholders over a five-year span compared to firms with leaders who are the least effective communicators. The command and control approach to management is giving way to interactive communication and leadership is becoming more of a conversational role than dictatorial.
#4 No micro-management please: Micro-management i.e. directing every little thing your subordinates do, stifles their creativity, morale, and overall performance. If you constantly look into every minute detail instead of the big picture, get involved in the work assigned to others, or discourage others from taking decisions – these are clear signs of being a micro-manager and it is sure to cause leadership failure.
#5 Foster creativity: The single most effective leadership quality that can help you tide through difficult situations is creativity, as believed by 60% of CEOs across the globe. While successful people work hard to cultivate the habit of out-of-the-box thinking, it is also important to encourage your followers to do so. To boost intellectual stimulation, throw challenges to your team, let them take risks, and give them goals – but make sure the risks are calculated and the goals within their reach.
#6 Lead by example: There’s no better motivation for subordinates than to see their boss practice what he or she preaches. Proving your commitment to your company will not only earn you the respect of your team but will go a long way in building the same in them. Once you have a team committed to a common goal, it will be smooth sailing to maximize productivity, inspire innovation, and get the best of results.
#7 Set limits: While being frank, honest, and conversational is certainly good, you need to have your boundaries clear on what you will NOT tolerate – be it reporting late to work, slacking on delivery, or spending too much time on personal errands. Convey the limits loud and clear to your team and it will save everyone from stress and frustration in the long run.
#8 Humility builds relationships: Humility is the opposite of weakness. It is a leadership quality critical to success, as found by research that reveals ‘Leaders with a strong self-insight demonstrate a good understanding of their own needs, emotions, abilities and behaviour. On top of that, they are proactive in the face of challenges.’ Humble leaders not only get more commitment and respect from their team, they are also able to drive innovation, positive energy, and all-round development of those who work with them.
#9 Steer clear of common pitfalls: Making mistakes is inevitable but you could sure avoid some common ones with a little effort. Heard of the adage – ‘Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it’? Learning from mistakes so you can avoid going down that lane again is a smart thing to do.
#10 Know your team well: Ask questions about your teammates’ families, their hobbies, interests, and dislikes. Take a genuine interest in getting to know your team well – it will not only earn you respect but will help you know about their strengths and weaknesses, which you can apply to business advantage.
Leadership is a two-way relationship
Being a leader is a process of constant evolution – one where you not only give your best to your followers but also learn from them. While the above are common habits that most successful people share, remember the buck does not stop there – the key is to keep trying new things, new leadership styles, imbibe new leadership qualities, and redefine yourself every now and then.