Collected from well-known (though perfectly unknown to me) names in the business world–everyone from CEOs to executive coaches–Entrepreneur’s Rob Reuteman presented a 9-point sidebar on how to improve your leadership skills.
Being a self-claimed introvert and rather shy in front of crowds, I thought that some of these things were not only easy to do–but things I’m doing already! It’s just a matter of finding a way to do them in front of a crowd or for a group of employees who report to me.
How Much Money Is a Good Leader Really Worth? | Entrepreneur.com [March 2014 Issue].
1.) Encourage employees to disagree with you.
This is something I never had enough of at previous jobs. It was “tow the line” or get out of it. I can understand why some bosses (especially of bigger businesses) wouldn’t want to take into consideration every single opinion of every single employee when it comes to which paper towels to use in the bathrooms. But letting employees know that door is open–for all kinds of communication–is a step toward being considered a valuable leader.
2.) Don’t Micromanage.
This I’ve only had a taste of, and it was coming down from someone I had “replaced” in a certain position. She had been given a promotion, and she was training me to do her job. She would call to make sure I was doing things at certain time. Check in with me when she left for and after she came back from her lunch hour. After the first few months it got to feel a little cloying, and it made me question my own capabilities even though I knew that I knew how to do the job.
3.) When people err, don’t destroy them.
Thankfully, I have no experience (good or bad, really) that go with this statement. I’ve never been destroyed by a boss for making a mistake, because I always made the point of fixing it myself or bringing it to them and explaining what happened.
4.) Show compassion.
I’ve always had (though sometimes it was situational) bosses and supervisors who were very good about being decent. Again, there were situations where bosses were less than kind, but never without compassion.
5.) Vow to be constantly learning and curious.
This describes me to the letter. I am always looking for new things to learn, new things to see. I love learning about people, cultures, and other businesses–even if I don’t have any experience with them. I was naturally curious as a child, killing my mother with “Why?” after everything she told me or explained to me. Curious and ready to learn are things I never have a problem being, whether alone or in front of a group.
6.) Know yourself.
“We’re often the worst evaluators of our behavior,” Tasha Eurich, executive coach, is quoted in the magazine. She couldn’t be more right. Someone lists really crappy leadership skills/styles and the first thing out of a boss’s mouth is, “Oh, well, that isn’t me!”, without even considering if maybe, even just a little bit, it is.
7.) Be laser-focused.
Remember it’s okay to take baby steps and treat them like major coups when you succeed. Every little bit counts, and bearing down on that one major goal for your business this week, this month, or even this year, is better than meeting no goals at all because you spread yourself too thin.
8.) Get rid of poor managers.
Replacing 2/3 of your executive staff? CEO Gordon Bethune, of Continental Airlines (and the subject of this article), did just that when he took the controls. “Don’t tolerate factionalism, back-stabbing or prima donnas. Everyone wins, or no one wins.”
9.) Practice leadership skills daily.
Shakespeare implied that we are often just the place greatness lands, but, in fact, no one can truly become great without working at it. On page 36 of the same issue of Entrepreneur, the 10-year or 10,000-hour rule is expressed. “…it takes a minimum of a decade of focused, consistent practice to develop top-tier expertise in any discipline.” The 10,000 hours are calculated by taking at least 20-hours per week to practice the skill.
Is this list exhaustive? Clearly not, but it’s a great place to start. Sometimes small changes are the only ones we need.