You rely on your employees to provide products and services that satisfy your customers and reach your company’s overall goals. Your leadership skills are directly linked to how effective you are at managing and motivating your team. How can you be sure your skills are up to the task of inspiring your employees and leading to greater company success?
Don’t worry, you don’t need to re-invent the leadership wheel — leaders have been using their influence to achieve great things for thousands of years. Learn from those who came before with these six critical leadership tactics that can help you communicate your expectations, motivate your staff and overcome challenges as a team.
1. Keep the lines of communication open
Regularly update your staff on the company’s current performance and future opportunities. But make it clear you want to hear from them, too: solicit suggestions that could improve the company and ask for feedback on your leadership. It helps to adopt an open-door policy that invites employees and managers to visit your office with questions and comments — or even give up the office altogether and sit with the rest of your team so you can interact all day.
2. Look for what’s next
Good leaders don’t micromanage. Instead, leave the day-to-day execution to managers and other staff and add value by taking a big-picture view of where your company is today and where you want it to be tomorrow. Identify industry trends that will shape the business, obstacles that could derail progress or the next steps in the company’s success and growth. Then, work with your team on specific tactics to help meet those challenges and achieve those goals.
3. Explain your motivations to get employee buy-in
Employees are more likely to follow directions and internalize company goals if they understand whyyou’re creating a policy or assigning a specific task. So explain the reasoning behind new requests in the context of the company’s mission, vision and values. Or, demonstrate to individuals how their roles are integral to the company achieving its goals.
4. Be adaptable
Moving forward often means taking the company into uncharted waters, where even the best-laid plans face setbacks. Turning back at the first obstacle, or rigidly adhering to plans that aren’t meeting expectations, can erode trust in your leadership. Instead, use unforeseen circumstances as an opportunity to get creative: Analyze why an approach for a company goal isn’t working and seek input on how to adjust and adapt your plans.
5. Share praise
Good business leaders know company successes are shared successes: Recognizing how others helped the company achieve significant milestones helps engender loyalty and motivate your team to work toward the next goal. But don’t just dole out kudos after big victories — share praise frequently. Begin weekly meetings by calling out one or two employees for recent good work or send frequent thank-you emails. And be specific: instead of telling employees they did a good job, tell them howthey did it, such as praising them for calmly handling an angry customer or for identifying several cost-saving ideas on a project that was running over budget.
6. Accept responsibility
When the business fails to meet a company goal, don’t immediately look for someone else to blame. Examine what you could have done better, such as conducting a more thorough analysis of the potential risks the company faced or improving your communication with the team.
Explain what role your leadership played in the miscue and describe what you learned from the experience. Then, ask employees and managers for suggestions on how the company can do better next time. Seeing you accept responsibility for mistakes and seek lessons from failure can inspire employees to do the same.