A recent CareerBuilder study revealed that a staggering 58% of business managers never receive leadership training at work. A lack of training and engagement with supervisors can lead to high employee turnover. To help new managers avoid those mistakes, we asked business experts to share their most valuable leadership tips.
Here are the top 25 effective leadership tips from the pros.
1. Have an Ask-Anyone-Anytime Approach
Igor Siedov, CEO, Web Design Sun
We implement an ask-anyone-anytime approach to our process. This means everyone can come with a question, problem or ideas for anyone in the company, including teammates from other departments and any of our top managers. It gives everyone a chance to be heard and not struggle with issues on their own until it’s too late.
2. Trust Your Team
Rob Webber, CEO & Founder, MoneySavingPro
To be a successful leader you have to trust your team and initiate a collaborative working relationship. You also need to ensure that you are an approachable and supportive leader. Recruitment plays a very important role in making sure all these attributes fall into place. If you find people whose passion matches their particular role, then it will be a lot easier to give them the freedom and encouragement to grow.
3. Let Them Do Their Jobs
Preston Lee, Owner, Millo
First, hire smart people who can use their brains to solve problems without you. Second, give them all the training, information, and help they need to make the right decisions. From there, continue to support them, but step back and let them do their job. Focus on results, deliverables, and end-goals. Then, trust the smart, capable people you hired to get the job done in their own way. Most times, they’ll overdeliver and surprise you.
4. Intervene in Situations When Necessary
Ben Taylor, Founder, HomeWorkingClub.com
There’s nothing worse than leaders who are unwilling to lead. There are times when teams need someone to take the casting vote or choose a path when there’s a struggle to reach a consensus. Staff members don’t always want to be left to battle things out between themselves and, sometimes, prefer to see their leaders step up and assist with the tougher decisions.
Maggie Aland, Marketing & Review Editor, FitSmallBusiness
Good managers help their employees make better decisions through efficient project management tools. Monday.com, for example, gives managers the necessary tools to provide leadership and informed decisions to employees with its highly customizable project views and boards. It also helps track individual team members’ progress at a glance and customize their workflow to adjust for any type of situation along the way. Visit Monday.com for a free trial today.
6. Set the Right Example to Your Team
Chris Foerster, CMO, Mad Cats Media
Be the yardstick for your team members to aspire to. As a leader, your team will look to you as to what is and is not appropriate. You will need to set the tempo by setting a good example. Above all, take responsibility for whatever happens and make yourself available and approachable to teammates.
7. Focus on Your Team’s Strengths
Tomer Yogev, Leadership Coach & Chief Maverick, TandemSpring
The fastest and easiest path to success is to orient around what is already working and figure out ways to bring more of that to the fore. By orienting on strengths, we see the value in ourselves, our employees, and our business. It allows for differentiation, clarity in branding, and real competitive advantages. As you approach your next business milestone, rather than asking what is wrong and will keep you from succeeding, ask instead what is working well and see if there are ways to do more of that.
8. Stay Organized
Xantal Farnós Vidal, Co-founder & CEO, Vandomian
Vision is important for the overall project, but there are far more important things that will make you a better leader in front of your team day by day. Organization is key. Always plan your day in advance, down to every task and assign priorities and deadlines. Leave some room for the issues that will arise and that need to be addressed urgently. If you are organized, your team will demonstrate their organization back. By assigning deadlines for yourself and others, it will also create accountability for the person responsible for each task.
9. Place Emphasis on Kindness in the Workplace
Linda Herron, Founder & CEO, SimpliProfit
As a leader, making kindness a big part of your workday will outweigh the alternative of spending a long day with unhappy people. It is as simple as a smile, opening the door for another, listening longer than our attention span can handle, and sharing good news and happiness with others. Though it doesn’t stop there. It is also a matter of openly showing happiness and pride for those who have received a promotion, or congratulating someone who executed a flawless speaking engagement; teaching younger staff a skill that they could use throughout their career. Kindness is about you taking a moment of your time to show someone just how important they are.
10. Focus on Inspiration Instead of Motivation
Jen Kelchner, CEO & Founder, LDR21
A great step that any leader can take today is to stop motivating their teams and begin to inspire them instead. Motivation is flawed in that it comes with the pressure of fear, a reward or punishment, an attempt to control, and generally reflects the motivator’s needs rather than the motivated. Inspiration allows a leader to connect to intrinsic needs and never comes from a place of fear. This leadership style inspires others to grow, engage, innovate, increase productivity, and accomplish greater things.
11. Get to Know Your Employees
Dr. Benjamin Ritter, Internal Leadership Development Coach, Live for Yourself Consulting
Take the time to get to know your employees, and not just their life, but their values, and then help them craft and perceive their job through their values in a meaningful way. These leadership strategies help you build trust and security in your employees and increases levels of workplace engagement and job satisfaction which have various positive effects on organizational outcomes.
12. Understand Your Team’s DISC Behavior
Liza Altenburg, Chief Strategist, Trainer & Coach, Fabuboss, LLC
Treat others the way they want to be treated. This can be accomplished by following the DISC behavior method, which teaches that each of us is a combination of four primary personality and behavior styles (dominant, influencing, steady, and compliant). By learning about each of the four styles and how to identify them in others, we can communicate, connect, lead, and collaborate in significant ways.
13. Focus on the Big Picture Instead of the Small
Nick Dove, Master Licensee, Florida & Georgia, ActionCOACH
It’s management’s job to lead their employees and keep them on track and focused on achieving the business’ goals and living out its mission. What we teach business owners is that they can’t work on their business (macro) if they’re working too closely in the business (micro). They’re two very different perspectives. The former is concerned about maintaining the purpose of the business and reminding employees of what that is. The latter is getting bogged down in the daily details and tasks. Those are fine for the employees to work on, but if the owner isn’t there to paint the bigger picture, who will?
14. Respect Everyone’s Time
Hank & Sharyn Yuloff, Business Coaches, Yuloff Creative Marketing Solutions
Always be realistic about the amount of time you ask your team members to devote to their jobs and the same goes for yourself. Tell them that if they begin to feel overwhelmed by work and responsibility to ask for help from you and other team members. It is better to handle challenges earlier than later. As leaders, we must show our team that we know they are humans, not machines. We suggest that you remember to block out time for personal time and teach your team the same skill.
15. Put Yourself in Your Employee’s Shoes
Eric J. Anderson, Co-founder & Organizational Development Manager, CalculatorBuddy.com
Try to visualize yourself as one of your own employees and ask yourself: Does this person motivate me? Would I really want someone like him as my boss? If you find this hard to do, ask someone to record you and then watch the video. Write down the things would you like to improve and start looking into ways to implement it. If, for example, you do not transmit enthusiasm with your voice, examine how you feel about your project. Then look for the motivation that can lead you to give everything to move your project forward. This will renew your strength and therefore that of your team.
16. Understand Each Employee’s Motivation
Dr. Scott Newton, Vice President for Care Model Solutions, TeleTracking
Understanding motivation is the key to understanding effective leadership. At TeleTracking, we offer employees volunteer time at an organization of their choosing. We also invest in each employee as an individual and understand that each career is different. We know that our employees want to expand their skill sets and learn things that will make them successful in their careers. Employees that feel valued are more likely to develop organizational loyalty. This increases motivation, increases investment in an organization and decreases turnover.
17. Get as Much Feedback as Possible
Tina Mertel, Leadership Coach & Facilitator, Meaningful Coaching
Get 360-degree feedback from as many people as possible. You will see exactly where you can improve. An anonymous feedback questionnaire is helpful so people will be uninhibited in the answers they offer. Some of the best assessments have both numerical data given on a scale of one to five, for example, and a qualitative section where they can type in comments. I use an assessment that puts the anonymous feedback into rater groups such as peers, clients, staff, and board members. Getting feedback also shows those around you that you are open to improving how you lead, which in itself is a leadership trait ― being a lifelong learner.
18. Become a Talent Developer
Tim Toterhi, Executive Coach, Plotline Leadership
Great leaders support employee movement. They never hoard talent. Instead, they actively encourage good employees to chase the next position, ideally inside the organization, but externally as well if that’s the best possible move for the individual. This is a key difference between managers and leaders. A manager focuses on today’s needs. A leader understands that when you develop people day after day and year over year re-sourcing becomes a non-issue.
19. Be Aware of Your Conversations
Cheri Torres, Lead Catalyst & Consultant, Conversation Matters
Be aware of your conversations, the ones you have with yourself and with others. As a leader, the tone and direction of your conversations cue everyone around you. Two simple practices will make all the difference ― positive framing and generative questions. These can help you be a leader capable of fostering highly productive teams and strong engagement, not to mention a sense of well-being. All these are correlated with success.
20. Do the Role Before It’s Handed to You
Jordan Wan, Founder & CEO, CloserIQ
True leadership shows up in everyday actions. If you want to move into a management role, actively look for opportunities to fix processes, procedures, and think about the big picture without even being in a leadership role. Instead of complaining about problems, propose solutions to fix them. Being a problem-solver does not only demonstrate your can-do attitude, but it also shows how you’re willing to go the extra mile for your job.
21. Be a Leader, Not a Dictator
Bernard May, CEO, National Positions
Too often, people think being a leader means having to be right every time about everything, which can lead them to overcompensate out of fear. In reality, you should listen more than you speak, have humility, and keep your ego in check. Leadership is working to drive the success of the company and to help those around your rise to a greater level by seeing, acknowledging, and providing the opportunity for them to flourish. Much like a game of chess, leadership is all about thinking strategically and uncovering opportunities both for your business and your team. If, as a leader, you are constantly fighting to be right, and need to have it your way every time, you will fail to listen to your team, discover opportunity, or inspire others.
22. Audit Your Team’s Understanding of the Company Vision
Tiffany Timmons-Saab, Author, Speaker & President, The Timmons Group
Assumptions can slow team progress and then cause a crisis when each person realizes they had assumed what somebody understood incorrectly. Next time your team meets, ask each person to write down on an index card what they believe the overall team goal and vision is, and what their part is in it. If they align, great. If they aren’t, start asking how, as a team, you can close the gaps. Better to know now that you are either in agreement or not. Be the leader and use this exercise frequently, with different questions to gain open participation from each team member.
23. Include Management Evaluation by Employees
Edgardo Villanueva, President, EMSI Consulting, LLC
I cannot count the number of times that employers have rejected the idea of listening to the opinion of their workers. Maybe it’s because their leadership style is on the table or because of fear of opening a can of worms. A good leader is one that can stand up to scrutiny and be willing to listen to the opinion of others. Evaluation of their management’s actions and opinions help. You have to learn how to listen.
24. Give Employees a Clear Picture of Your Ideal Customer
Don Maruska, Speaker, Author & Master Certified Coach, Don Maruska
Focus is a leader’s friend. One of the most important points of focus is targeting your ideal customers. Have you described them so that everyone in your organization helps to identify them? Have you winnowed out the customers who are not ideal? Customers who aren’t ideal distract your attention, often quibble about your prices because they don’t need your distinctive value or are cheap and take up too much time and attention. When you focus on ideal customers, you will be doing your business and everyone who works in it a big favor and your profits will soar.
25. Be Comfortable With Conflict Resolution
Robin Schwartz, PHR, Human Resources Director, Career Igniter
Be a leader for employees almost certainly comes with workplace conflicts. There will be a time when coworkers do not get along or when you are having a conflict with a direct report. Leaders who avoid conflict because it’s “uncomfortable” will continue to have friction within their team. Part of being a good leader is also understanding when to ask for help and who to ask. Leaders should be aware of the resources within their organization to assist staff in conflict. This may be an HR representative or even a formal mediation process staff can be recommended to use.
The Bottom Line
Leaders are burdened with the task of directing change that will benefit the business and its people as a whole. Our list of pro tips will help you show your team how to be a leader at work and inspire them to be leaders themselves.
Want to share your favorite leadership tips? Let us know in the comments.