Being a leader is not easy. Leaders have to take care of people, treating them respectfully as they help them work towards goals. Leaders also have to represent their organizations without being offensive. Leaders also need to be able to communicate clearly. They need to set guidelines and follow guidelines. Leaders also need to be able to work with the media in all forms – print, digital, and social.
With all of these responsibilities and more, it is no surprise that leaders are often overwhelmed, especially new leaders. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources that can help you become a better leader in 30 days.
1. Leave your office
Leaders work with people, so leaders need to know their people. All too often, leaders stay holed up in their offices and let their administrative assistants do the communicating for them. If you never leave your office, it is time to start. The best way to do this is to set your schedule with activities out of the office.
2. Get to know your people
As you build your schedule to leave your office, include getting to know people on that schedule. Pick one or two people each day to talk to – really talk to face-to-face in a comfortable space. You are not interviewing these people – that’s how they got into your organization. You are talking to them about their work and their lives. You can start by asking questions about work, then let them talk, which leads to the next step.
3. Listen to your people
The best way to get to know your people is to listen to your people. Let them talk. Don’t judge what they are saying, just actively listen. When it is time to ask a new question, ask. When your people ask you questions, answer them.
The best leaders listen. By doing this, they know what their people need and they can work on providing their necessities. By listening to people on the front line, leaders can learn about what is actually going on in the organization rather than just assuming they know. Principals should listen to teachers. CEOs should listen to their salespeople. Office managers should listen to their front-desk employees.
4. Attend a leadership conference
Even if you have attended one in the past, there is nothing wrong with finding one to attend in the present. The roles of leaders are constantly evolving and so are the topics at leadership conferences. Go with an open mind as you never know what tidbits of information you can bring back to your organization. There are plenty of websites to visit for more information about events near you.
5. Give employees autonomy
Good leaders hire the best people, so they can also give those people autonomy at work. There is no reason to look over the shoulders of your employees. Simply by hiring them, you have already told them that you believe they can do the work. When you look over their shoulders and check on every little thing they do, you take away their beliefs in themselves and you make them feel as if they are not trusted. If you continue to look over the shoulders of your employees, you should not be surprised if they decide to look for work elsewhere. Give your people the autonomy they deserve, so they can do the work you hired them to do.
6. Stop micromanaging
No one likes to be micromanaged. It reduces trust and breaks up teams. Your employees will learn exactly the opposite of what you want them to learn. When you micromanage, your employees will not know what to do independently. They will come to you with every little problem and you will get tired of it.
Instead, when you stop micromanaging, your employees will have to the autonomy to solve problems on their own. They will be happier because they will like they are valued because you trust them. They will want to stay in your organization because they are not micromanaged.
7. Provide feedback
Employees appreciate feedback, especially when that feedback is useful rather than judgmental. Yes, people like to know when they are doing a good job, but saying “good job” to an employees doesn’t tell them what they are doing well. The more specific you can get, the more it will help your employees. It is also helpful to provide feedback privately, and face-to-face in a relaxed, neutral space. No matter what feedback you give, it is nice to let your employees know that you appreciate them, especially if you can say it to each one of them, personally.
8. Set goals
Leaders should set goals for their people. Those goals need to be realistic and attainable. For example, if you want every employee to cold call five people each day, that is realistic and attainable. If you want them to reach the goals, you will need to give them the resources that they need. You will also need to give them a place to record the steps they take to reach their goals.
The best leaders include their employees in creating the goals. They know what they can do and will help set realistic goals that they can achieve. In many cases, employees set bigger goals for themselves than you would set for them. So, be sure that they understand what you want from them and whether their goals are too big. Your employees will appreciate that you listen to them when you involve them in goal-setting.
9. Understand intentions
Employees will make mistakes and in most cases, those mistakes come with good intentions. Instead of reacting with anger and frustration, the best response is to talk to your employee and listen to the situation. Humans are not perfect and your employees will see you as a strong leader if you listen to them and respect their humanity rather than yelling and screaming when things do not go perfectly. When you treat your employees like people, they will deliver and your organization will benefit.