It’s tough at the top. Not only are you expected to lead the charge, inspire and motivate – you have to concentrate on continually improving yourself, too. Your focus is, therefore, twofold; on both those looking up to you and your own development. Research suggests that 70% of leaders learn their most important lessons when reacting to unexpected job changes and taking on particularly challenging assignments. And that’s exactly what being a great leader is all about; you need to be prepared to eat humble pie occasionally and learn from the experience.
If you’ve been placed in a role that requires you to lead a team, you may be wondering how it’s possible to strive for continual improvement in a manically busy world that is full of distractions and a multitude of ways in which you can be contacted.
Surely it’s impossible – no?
Thankfully, there are some simple, tried-and-tested ways to become a better leader and live a happier life as a result. And we’ve identified the ones you should focus on.
1. Do things that make you uncomfortable
Waking up in the morning and remembering that you’ve got to do something later that day you’d really rather not isn’t a particularly nice feeling, but the feeling you get when you’ve conquered that thing is rather special.
As humans, we improve considerably when challenged. If a challenge makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t shy away from it – take control and see it through to the bitter end; you’ll learn in ways that will improve your leadership immeasurably.
2. Be transparent, always
As Tony Scherba, president and founder of Yeti once said, “Your team can tell if you’re hiding something. It makes them uncertain or suspicious, both of which you don’t want.”
A suspicious team isn’t a team that respects you. They live in constant fear that something else is going on – a bigger play in which they’re simple a pawn on the commercial chess board.
Prove this isn’t the case by being transparent in everything you do. If you make a decision that directly affects them, explain why it has been made and how it’ll benefit them.
3. Learn something new every day
Never stop learning. Read as much as you can, whether it be in the form of books, blogs or influencer content on social media.
Learning isn’t something you ‘complete’ – it’s an on-going thing you should invest in for the rest of your life. Great leaders never stop learning and realise that there isn’t a person on the planet who knows it all.
4. Seek feedback from your team
This is perhaps the hardest of all the suggestions in today’s post. Your team, often, knows you better than you might think. They identify weaknesses (along with areas in which you’re particularly adept) and, when quizzed on the subject, may well tell you exactly what they think.
A frightening prospect? Possibly. By asking your team what they think of your leadership style, you’ll either end up overjoyed or disappointed. If it’s the latter, you’ll at least know where you need to improve.
‘My door is always open’ is a rather reactive approach to leadership. Instead, and in order to become a better leader, be proactive in seeking feedback from your team. Invite them into your office regularly (or take them out for a coffee) and ask if there are areas in which you could improve. Make it clear that the conversation is entirely confidential and they won’t be reprimanded for honesty, and you’ll get just that.
5. Put imposter syndrome to good use
We’ll end on this one, because it is an affliction common among nearly all of us. Imposter syndrome is the unnerving feeling that you’re occupying a position you don’t deserve. It’s rife among management and those in positions that require leadership and it can be crippling for many.
Imposter syndrome is actually a very healthy thing. It reminds us that we’re infallible and that, despite past successes, we need to better ourselves every day. If you get the feeling you’re out of your depth, work doubly hard until you start feeling in control.
Embrace imposter syndrome, and focus every day on the tips above; becoming a better leader is a never-ending task, but one that is uniquely addictive.