Author - Mark Pickering

Then we say the word ‘leader’ what comes to mind? A world leader, a politician, or your own boss? Why do they come to mind?

The word ‘leader’ carries with it many connotations, such as strong, brave, committed, inspiring, but it’s important to never settle when it comes to leadership skills, and always to strive to improve. A good leader has the potential to be a great leader.

Here’s how to be a better leader in the workplace!

1) Build Your Self-Awareness

Self-awareness should be your number 1 strategy to improve your leadership skills, because so many things are impacted by self-awareness, or lack of it! Leaders who are self-aware may be more able to own up to their mistakes, recognise how their style of communication may be helping or hindering, and learn from the past. There are many ways to build on your self-awareness but our top recommendation would be to ask your team members for some performance feedback – yes, normally it would be the other way around but trust us, this is crucial. If you can’t take corrective feedback from someone lower down the ladder than you, that is a red flag in itself. When you get feedback from employees and colleagues, act on it. This will help you to improve your effectiveness whilst building on that self-awareness, but will also show your team members that you mean what you say, and will help them to invest in you further. 360 degree feedback is key to self-awareness.

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2) Be Open, Modest, and Humble

Leadership is a behaviour style, not a job. Not every leader needs an impressive job title or a long, extravagant CV, and leaders do not have to be the all-seeing, all-knowing eyes of the workplace. Today’s desirable leadership skills include strong emotional intelligence, honesty with team members, openness, willingness to share their own goals and motivations, and being happy to take the time to get to know and connect with their team, and build trust all around.

3) Influence and Communicate

It’s one thing to communicate well with your own boss, but an effective leader can communicate well with their own team members, both individually and in groups. This includes helping to smooth bumps in inter-team communication settings, such as team meetings where things may get rocky. Ask questions, ask more questions, and then ask follow-up questions. Be sure you really understand what the other team member is saying – as in step 1, building self-awareness may help you to recognise styles of communication, and that will then help you understand your employees’ styles of communication – not everyone says what they really mean.

When you’re talking to your team be clear and direct. Don’t leave room for misunderstandings.

4) Communicate In a Style That Works For Your Audience

Great leaders accommodate those around them and alter their communication style accordingly, which helps bring out the best in the other person. Some team members may feel like their time is being wasted if you try to soften a blow with small talk first, whereas others may prefer a bit of weather chat before a difficult conversation. PDW Group’s Behavioural styles profiling can help you to understand your own, and your team members’ behavioural preferences, which can make it much easier to work together.

5) Be Flexible In Your Leadership Style

Some people try to be leaders by taking a hard line, “no exceptions approach”. But leadership needs to be situation-dependent and fluid, easily adaptable to the person who is on the other side. It’s important not to get stuck in a one-size-fits-all style of communication, such as hands on or hands off, with every person, every day.

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6) Promote and Reward Innovation

Sometimes the best ideas just come to you, and other times we have to work hard to get to a great solution. There are team members who can think outside the box, and team members who are more task-driven than creative, and both are equally valid. The important thing is to encourage imagination and innovation when tackling a problem, and reward new suggestions when they come along (even if you personally would never even consider them!). Everyone should get kudos for trying.

7) Offer Clear Feedback

It can be very disheartening to complete a new type of task for the first time and then be met with tumbleweeds afterwards – many people want to know how they did. Some people urgently want to find out where they could improve, whereas others simply would like a little bit of praise here and there. This is where the chance of feedback needs to be on the table. After all, you can’t improve what you can’t measure, and feedback is a measurement of performance.

Many people are on a starvation diet of feedback in the workplace, still going down the wrong path because their boss hasn’t bothered to course-correct them. Feedback, whether positive or corrective, always has the potential to help a team member make changes for the better.

8) Invest In YOU

Up there with self-awareness is self-esteem. You are a leader, so it’s important you look after yourself, take yourself seriously as a leader, and invest in yourself. Leadership is about both what leaders do, and what leaders are seen to be doing. Self-awareness gives you the insight to recognise what you are seen to be doing, and investing in the right leadership development training helps you with the actual doing. When you get these two parts of the leadership process working in harmony together, you’re on track to become not just a good leader, but a great one.

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Through PDW Group training, you can learn by doing, applying PDW Group principles, and receive high-quality feedback to help transform your work. PDW Group principles and techniques can build your confidence and capability in using these principles, through realistic practice. If you’d like to take your leadership skills to the next level, click here to make a direct enquiry.

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