Being the best leader you can be is not just essential for your own success but also for the success of all your clients and community members.
It’s not the power of being the boss that makes you a leader, but the ability to inspire others through your actions, passion, communication and vision. It’s about looking for more ways to listen and help and modelling strong, positive leadership skills.
So, here are twenty one quick ways to up your game as a positive leader:
1. Get Out There and Make Connections
The best leaders are insatiable at learning and improving every area of their lives. Part of this involves just getting out there and networking. Talk to peers and competitors, to find out what’s important to them nowadays. Go to conferences and symposiums and talk to experts. Want to ask someone a question? If you are close enough to have their phone number, just phone and ask!
Some of the best leaders are also introverts. It’s tough cold-calling or putting yourself out there, if you’re one too—but the successful introvert leaders all say the same thing: You just have to do it. (And that it does get easier!)
2. Be Solution-Oriented
Weak leaders shame-and-blame. Strong leaders hone in on specific problems and look for solutions. And they’re especially good at thinking up ‘third alternatives’ or out-of-the box fixes that far exceed the standard solutions.
3. Be Action-Oriented
Strong leaders not only look for solutions, they are also the first to take action on them and implement them. Leaders will find out the best people for specific tasks while others are still discussing possibilities. Leaders will fix plumbing leaks, find caterers at the last minute while others are bewailing a cooking disaster, and generally build up a “get-it-done” mentality.
And that includes getting-it-done for your people!
4. Ask For Help
Part of being solution-oriented and action-oriented is knowing when to admit you need help, when to ask for help – and then doing so! A good leader never hesitates to say, “Can you show me how to do this?” or, “Will you explain this to me, please?”
That’s because a great leader knows his or her own worth but is immune to ego.
5. Accept Responsibility
Leaders and excuses don’t go together. A strong leader never hesitates to admit when he or she is wrong about something.
6. Be a Lifelong Learner
Great leaders are voracious learners. They read books, as well as search the net. They are not afraid to go to the source and ask the experts. They listen to podcasts in their cars; go to seminars and workshops; find out how things work; and know exactly who to call on for a myriad of needs or situations.
This type of curiosity is a great habit to develop—and it will keep you ahead of your competition and help you come up with concrete or decisive answers when others are still dithering.
7. Do Your Homework
Effective leaders will take the time to do the research. And if they commission other people to do the research for them, they take the time to go over the results and make sure they understand all implications.
8. Use Mentors and Coaches
Great leaders never think of themselves as the top of the heap: There is always someone else they admire, follow, model themselves after, or consult. And they’re not afraid to admit it or shout-out to their mentors, either.
Think back over your life: Who was your inspiration? Your mentor? If you’ve let them drop by the wayside, use this as a reminder to reconnect and keep up that valuable connection.
9. Be Approachable
Nothing will endear you to your people more than approachability … especially if you protect yourself with making sure you also have clear boundaries around access.
If people feel you are approachable, they also feel that you care about them. You’ll never be the dreaded “tyrant boss”, and by setting times and ways for contact, it ensures that contact occurs in a controlled manner and doesn’t burn you out.
10. Actively Develop Your Communication Skills
Great leaders have great communication skills. They use these to convey visions, inspire people, negotiate a positive way through conflicts and above all, they are great listeners. But they also actively develop these skills. They know that most people aren’t born with them, and they will go out their way to acquire the best communications skills they can.
11. Use ‘We’ instead of ‘I’
When you use ‘I’ statements within a leadership role, you subconsciously set yourself on a pedestal. When focusing on tasks and goals to accomplish, include your team by saying ‘we’ and giving them ownership of the task and goal.
When you do say ‘I’ make sure it’s paired with statements such as appreciation or gratitude statements, or include as many ‘you’ and ‘we’ statements as ‘I’ ones.
12. Learn to Read Beyond What’s Spoken
Another top leader super-skill: ‘Reading’ people. This means not just listening to what’s said, but being able to accurately interpret other clues, such as tone, body language, and facial expressions. Effective leaders don’t let such things slipstream over them. They are able to instantly recognize when someone is dubious about something they’re in the middle of agreeing to, or being evasive under expressions of confidence—and get to the heart of the matter in a positive and reassuring way.
13. Give Your Team the Right Tools
One of the easiest ways to enable and encourage your team to not only do a great job, but enjoy and be inspired by the process, is to give them the right tools. Don’t stint on this: Giving your contractor or team member the pro version of the right tool will increase productivity and speed up the creation process.
And your team members will really appreciate your support.
14. Be Aware of Your Own Body Language, Too
Don’t just focus on the body language of people you are speaking to: Check your own body language, too. Do you look people you are speaking to in the eyes? Do you smile and focus on radiating a positive attitude? Are you lethargic, animated—or too animated? Do you practice “open” body language (angling toward your guest, for example; not crossing your arms or legs; or using wide-arm gestures that include the audience and bring them in).
Have you previously even thought of what your own body language says?
15. Develop an Engaging Speaking Style
Record yourself speaking on more than one occasion; both informally and formally (e.g. when giving a speech or running through a podcast or webinar script). Play these practice runs back and listen.
Do you put yourself to sleep? Do you do the opposite, and chatter so fast that you sound like a squirrel after espresso? Do you practice good breathing, so that your voice is resonant, not squeaky or ‘thin’? Do you fall back too frequently on meaningless phrases like ‘basically’? Do you repeat clichés and specific words too often? Do you hem and haw and stumble?
Above all, is your voice real, authentic, clear and warm?
Analyse your own voice objectively. Listen for all these things, decide where and how you need to improve, and do it!
16. Make a Habit of Being Goal-Oriented
The best leaders zero in on whatever goal they’re working on, and move toward it without distraction.
Learn to cut out tangents and irrelevancies, and focus on your goals, be they huge or small; the ‘big picture’ or a detail. Learn not to allow yourself to be distracted into reactive mode, and get your team members effortlessly back on track.
17. Don’t Be a Boss: Be a Leader!
A boss suffers from pedestal thinking: She thinks of her team members as minions instead of fellow professionals.
A leader doesn’t regard herself as the center of the universe: She shares the spotlight, the problems, and the praise with her team.
She gives credit, not takes it: A leader steps back to let her team shine. A leader helps people grow and is remembered as an inspiration in years to come.
18. Be Prepared to Be a Decision Maker and Take Risks
Great leaders do something else that sets them apart from other professionals: After they have done the research, analysed the facts, and brainstormed with their teams, they:
- Make decisions
- Take risks
This is because they have taught themselves not to fear failure. Great leaders know that sometimes projects or ideas fall short.
But they also know that avoiding decision-making and never taking a chance is the real failure!
19. Listen for the ‘Wee Small Voice’
Great leaders are also not afraid to question themselves and their assumptions. They learn to be aware of that niggling inner voice that tells one that something isn’t right; or simply leads to a hint of nervousness or fear.
Experienced leaders question this ‘wee small voice’ immediately on becoming aware of it. They get to the ‘why’ behind the doubt or fear, and face it head on. Then they take action to eliminate potential problems that might have been causing the fear. They never let fear rule them or hide in sabotage.
20. Be Proactive—not Reactive
It’s easy—especially when you are an online entrepreneur—to slip into reactive mode, and end up feeling like a chicken running around with its head cut off: Especially when you have many irons in the fire and people depending on you. But be sure to make time for things that matter (like your health and personal life), and be as proactive as you can. Plan things ahead of time. Delegate.
And once you’ve done all that, learn how to let things go.
21. Make Time for the Things That Matter
Great leaders do their best to avoid burnout. They know they are human, just like everyone else. They make sure they recharge their batteries with strong, healthy self-care—and they nurture important personal relationships. They carry the same respect they show in the workplace back home.
So, develop a healthy self-care routine:
- Eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible
- Drink at least six glasses of water daily
- Cut down on carbs and alcohol
- Cut down on other bad habits that can sabotage your health (such as smoking, inactivity)
- Be grateful
- Take time to notice all your blessings
- Do something fun
- Focus on your family
- Give back to your local community or charities you believe in
- Read entertaining books and listen to fun podcasts, as well as business ones
- Get a hobby
- Get a good night’s sleep every night
Do even half of the above, and you’ll find yourself more alert, more focused—and you’ll have more fun being the leader you were meant to be!