In order to find success with your business, excel in your position and form a strong connection with your team, it is helpful to know how to be a great business leader. It is true that some people seem to be natural leaders, but it is also true that leadership is a skill that can be developed. Fortunately, this is a well-trodden path so there is a wealth of information out there that you can learn from, but it is also important to recognize that you need to incorporate modern ideas into business leadership, especially during challenging times like this where so much has changed in business due to the pandemic.
Earn A Masters In Leadership
Perhaps the best step to take is to earn a masters in leadership. This course will help to develop all the key skills needed to lead a team in a business setting as well as develop your confidence, which is so important when it comes to leadership. A masters in leadership will prepare you to lead in any business setting and develop key skills such as team building, problem-solving and communication. In challenges times like these, good leaders have never been more important so a masters in leadership could be a valuable qualification that helps you to improve and take your business forward even in difficult circumstances.
Read About History’s Leaders
As mentioned, leadership is a well-trodden path and there is much that can be gleaned by reading about history’s great leaders and not just successful business leaders. Many people find it fascinating and inspirational to read about great leaders throughout history, such as:
- Abraham Lincoln
- Julius Caesar
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Napoleon Bonaparte
Immerse Yourself In Leadership
In addition to a masters in leadership, there are lots of other ways that you can immerse yourself in leadership, which can be helpful for getting advice, asking questions and finding inspiration. A few of the best ways that you can immerse yourself in leadership include:
- Reading blogs
- Listening to podcasts
- Reading books
- Joining online communities
- Following figures on social media
- Attending leadership events
Find A Mentor
It can also be useful to find a leadership mentor, especially if you are new to this type of role. This could be someone in your personal life, a local business leader, someone you meet through your masters in leadership or someone through a mentorship program. You will find them very useful because they can provide advice, offer support and help you to avoid many of the common mistakes that people make when it comes to leadership (there are a lot!). Taking a masters in leadership will put you in contact with a wider range of people, whom you can then use as a support network in your new role.
Focus On Listening
One of the big mistakes that people make when it comes to leadership is not listening to their team. People assume that the great leaders are the ones who do not ask for advice and instead lead from the front, but actually the greatest leaders in history and in business are the ones who are excellent listeners. They will understand the value of gaining different viewpoints and perspectives and then using their expertise and what they have learned to come to the best decision. When you are a good listener and you value the input of your team, it will also help to create a stronger bond and develop trust which is so important when it comes to leadership and teamwork. Again this is something that a masters in leadership will help you with.
Get To Know Each Team Member
Following this point, you also need to take the time to get to know every team member both professionally and personally. You need to maintain boundaries and ensure that you command respect, but you should also get to know each team member and develop personal relationships that do not overstep the mark. Additionally, getting to know them from a professional standpoint is useful because it allows you to match task to skillset and get the most out of them. Not only this, but you should ask them what their career goals are and then do all that you can to help them achieve these within your business. This is a win-win because the staff member is happy as they get to progress, but it is helpful for the company because you will be improving your team and retaining your top talent.
Work On Your Weaknesses
Everyone has weaknesses and there is no shame in this. The great leaders are the ones who are aware of their weaknesses and do all that they can to turn these into strengths, such as taking a course in public speaking, if this is an area of your role that you struggle with. You will develop many of the key skills required with a masters in leadership, but there may be areas that you want to improve on. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with reaching out and asking for help when you need it – this is actually incredibly effective at helping to create stronger bonds with your team and will help them to feel a key, valued part of the operation.
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone Regularly
In order to be a good leader and to make positive change happen, you need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and take some risks. You cannot expect things to improve and change if you do not step out of your comfort zone as it is here where you learn, develop and boost your confidence. In terms of taking risks, these should always be calculated risks but do not panic if they backfire. Every great leader will have made multiple mistakes throughout their career, but they will label these as learning opportunities and not let it affect their confidence.
Offer Flexibility & Autonomy
In today’s day and age, offering flexibility and autonomy is vital if you want to find success in a leadership role. The days of working 9-5 in an office are long gone, especially since the pandemic has accelerated the remote working revolution. Even once the pandemic has ended, you may seriously want to consider offering flexibility in terms of remote work and make sure that you know how to manage a remote team effectively.
Additionally, you need to avoid micromanaging and encourage staff to find their own best way of working. This often results in them being more productive, it frees up time for you to focus on the big picture and it can also help to demonstrate trust. While autonomy is recommended, you should still be present and make yourself available for support – many managers like to use an open-door policy which can be highly effective.
Be Fair & Consistent
A good leader is one that is fair and consistent in the way in which they lead their team. Issues are inevitable when you are a leader, especially when it comes to business, so you need to make sure that you have clear expectations and handle any issues both fairly and consistently. Sometimes, this involves making a difficult call and going against your emotions but, ultimately, you need to be fair and consistent in order to build trust.
Following on from this, you also need to find the right balance between being a friend and being a boss so that you command respect. This is an area where many struggle and it certainly can be challenging, but the key is to have clear boundaries and to treat your team how you expect to be treated. This means that you should show an interest and engage in friendly conversations without overstepping the mark and always making sure that work is the priority. It is also smart to retain a professional image at all times (even during informal events) and try to prevent your personal life from spilling over into work. As above, you also need to be able to handle difficult issues effectively and be someone that people look up to in the workplace.
Give Regular Feedback
Feedback should not wait until quarterly reviews and you should find that giving regular feedback will help staff to feel more comfortable, improve their performance and improve morale. When a boss does not give any kind of feedback, people do not know where they stand and this uncertainty can lead to stress, anxiety or apathy. A simple “good job” can go a long way while any constructive criticism can create a transparent, honest relationship which is key for progress (just be sure to give constructive criticism in private and to be supportive).
Check In Regularly
Following this, it is also important to check in with your staff on a regular basis to see how they are doing, if there is anything that they are struggling with and if you can support them in any way. People are sometimes reluctant to come forward if they are having an issue, so taking the initiative is smart as well as helpful for forming strong relationships with your team.
Checking in regularly is particularly important during the pandemic when people are working remotely. This is an extremely challenging time and people may have concerns over their own health, the health of loved ones, their finances and job security. On top of this, remote working can be a challenge for many particularly when there are restrictions in place which can lead to people feeling isolated and suffering from cabin fever.
People will often look to their leader and adopt a similar approach, which means that it is hugely important that you have a positive outlook at work. You need to be positive and passionate about your work, which will inspire others and should also make it much easier for them to come to you with an issue that they are experiencing. This should help to create a positive, supportive atmosphere in the workplace which is so important for success.
Create a Team-Based Mentality
While you certainly need to focus on yourself and commit to being a better leader for your team through steps like a masters in leadership, you also need to try to create a team-based mentality and to encourage staff to get along with one another. It is much easier to lead when everyone is united and engaged with the business, so you can encourage this with team-building events, collaborative projects and informal events – even if you are not invited to these events, they should still be encouraged to create a team-based mentality.
Look After Yourself
A good leader is also one which looks after themself so that they can maximize their performance, prevent illness and stay positive. This will involve:
- Getting enough sleep
- Regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Socializing with friends and family
This can be challenging when you have such a demanding job, but it needs to be a priority otherwise it could lead to significant issues and affect your job performance.
Take Time Off
Following this point, you need to avoid the common mistake of working yourself into the ground. It is important to have a good work ethic and to work hard, but if you lean too much into this then this could lead to burnout which could create all kinds of different problems for yourself, the business and your team. Therefore, you need to make sure that you are taking regular breaks throughout the day, disconnecting from work when you have finished and also taking time off occasionally. Taking time off to disconnect and recharge will help you to maintain a positive energy, help to reduce stress and also ensure that you have a life outside of the business which you can enjoy.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to become a better leader in business. This should help you to improve your own personal job performance, get more from your team, create stronger relationships and help the business to reach its goals. Some people seem to naturally be gifted when it comes to leadership, but it is also a skill which can be developed over time with practice and research and the above are all good areas to focus on whether this is something big like a masters in leadership or simply making sure that you are looking after yourself.