How to Become a Better Leader in 4 Steps
Being hired to lead a team doesn’t automatically make you a leader. Just like any other aspect of your job, it takes hard work and dedication to become the leader that inspires your team while earning members’ trust and support.
While there is no one-size-fits-all checklist for being a great leader, the four tips below are a good place to start.
Know how to listen
“Leaders are true observers, and they don’t jump to decisions, make assumptions or blame before they have collected the facts. In order to understand all aspects of a situation, they must listen first,” Ashley Stahl says in Forbes.
It can be counterintuitive that once you step in the leader role, you should talk less, but paying attention to your team is a top priority.
Body language is also an important part of listening.
“Pay attention to inconsistencies, if someone is telling you ‘yes’ while shaking their head ‘no,’ it is likely time to step back and re-evaluate the topic at hand,” Stahl explains.
Know how to manage emotions
As a leader, others look to you in stressful situations and they feed off your energy. Don’t respond immediately but give yourself time to process information and provide a thoughtful response.
“It’s not that good leaders should be emotionless, it’s that they focus, which means abstaining from any temptation to buy into the crazy thoughts going through their mind,” Stahl says. “They don’t jump to horrific conclusions, because they know that fear and assumptions will take them away from managing the task at hand.”
Work on going from amateur to pro
The things you may have done before you became a leader, such as stay up too late on a work night and call in sick the next day, can no longer happen.
“Leaders create habits that support them in building results in the world. They face the same resistance we all do each day, but they fearlessly move through it, versus letting it control them,” Stahl says.
Identify the things you do that positively affect your life and work on making them into habits. For example, set goals at the beginning of every day, answer your emails promptly (especially the ones you’ve been avoiding) and concentrate on learning outside your work environment from books or podcasts.
Check your ego at the door
If you have the mindset that the most important thing is getting the job done no matter how small the task, that attitude can inspire the rest of your team.
“The ability to look past your own ego and see the impact your decisions have on others will set you apart as a leader. This skill is also largely rooted in developing a strong sense of empathy,” Stahl explains. “Build empathy and release your ego by stepping into others’ shoes and practicing full presence in your listening.”
Learning how to be a leader is not a one-time thing. It’s a journey that requires you to constantly learn and evaluate how you are doing. Consistently check in with yourself to make sure you are listening to your team, managing your emotions, bettering yourself, and keeping your ego in check.