Become a better leader. It sounds like a big task, doesn’t it? Indeed, becoming a truly exceptional leader does take the right tools and some practice. But it’s possible to improve leadership skills today—even within this hour. Small steps, taken consistently, can create big changes over time in the way you relate to your staff and vice versa. Here are five tips for effective leadership to try immediately:
Learn everyone’s name
Being able to call someone by his or her first name creates an instant rapport, and gives that person the message that you consider him or her worth knowing. Few things are more important for effective leadership in the workplace. When you learn someone’s name, repeat it and then form an association between that person’s name and a person or image that is already familiar to you. For instance, if the person’s name is Taylor, think of pop star Taylor Swift singing on stage. If the person’s name is Hillary, think of Hillary Rodham Clinton giving a political speech.
Make someone know they matter
Praising your staff shows that you’re an appreciative leader, but one way to improve your leadership skills further is to give praise for specific achievements. This shows you understand exactly how your staff contributed. So if your Tulsa sales rep increased her numbers, thank her for increasing them by X amount, by doing Y things, and note how it helped the company in Z ways.
Appeal to nobler motives
While you’re specifically praising people, you can also motivate your staff by explaining how their work today is contributing to the bigger picture for the company tomorrow. Has your team recently adopted new software systems that required a big effort to learn? Bring in a box of donuts on your way to the office to toast them with pastries and coffee, and then explain exactly how this new software (and their mastery of it) is helping the company meet larger goals.
Throw down a big challenge
If you know your team isn’t meeting their full potential, don’t be afraid to simply ask them to do better today than they did yesterday. For example, you can be a more effective leader by asking them to rise to the occasion and tackle a relatively complicated project. Then, tell them you’re sure they can be successful, and that you’re there to back them up if and when they need it.
Make mistakes seem easy to correct
You can improve leadership skills by changing the way you deal with mistakes. Ask yourself: did someone really mess up? Addressing mistakes is never easy, but offer your help and reinforce your belief that they can fix things. They need to know that you have faith in them. Then, break down the changes into small bites. If changes seem overwhelming, people won’t think they can fix them—and they may not even try.
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