21 Keys To Becoming An Effective Leader In The Workplace
A friend asked us (a group of five friends) to describe the best boss we have ever worked with. To my surprise, we all spoke about personal qualities and relationships rather than qualifications.
Being a great leader is one of the easiest things in the world, yet you see so many people who fail miserably at it.
Whether this is because business owners are sometimes megalomaniacs, or because they can’t find the right way to lead a team.
The truth is – there is no space for bad bosses in a business that wants to be successful.
If you feel like you just can’t quite nail being a business owner and leading your team to success, then making some minor adjustments could be key to your success.
But what should you actually be doing if you want to get on the road to being a great boss and leader? No one indeed starts as a great leader, however, it’s a journey everyone can learn.
I’ve put together some ideas here.
1. Be consistent
One thing that many leaders struggle with is being consistent with the attitude that can get something out of your employees.
However, this is key to your success and something that you really need to work on. Decide what your values are in your business. Know the type of attitude that you want to have towards your employees.
Then, make every effort to maintain this across all circumstances, no matter how stressed out you are. Being consistent is a great leadership trait.
2. Praise your employees
One mistake that many people make in business is not being appreciative of their employees.
It isn’t enough just to presume that your team members are going to stick around because you give them a wage. If they are not well paid, they’re likely to go to a business where they get rewarded for all of the work that they’re putting in.
Praise them, even if you only do it verbally. This will foster strong relationships and workplace happiness.
3. Avoid micromanagement
Micromanaging your team is one of the worst things that you can do as a boss. You should avoid this at all costs.
Micromanagement is management with excessive control and attention to details. No good leader will delegate and then chokingly monitor the micro-process. Apart from the fact that it wastes time and energy, it is a strong way of saying you don’t trust your delegate.
Micromanagement centralizes the power and decision making around the boss but it breeds a lack of confidence in the subordinate to do their job.
A good boss does not micro-manage his subordinates.
This does not mean that your hands are off the whole process or handle with a laissez-faire attitude, it just means that after delegation, you give breathing space so the subordinate can do his work without much interference. This builds trust and allows the subordinate to feel capable.
There are a few scenarios where micromanagement is needed. If you and the subordinate are working together on a job or when you have a new subordinate that needs training. Another instance where micromanagement is necessary is if the subordinate is running late on a job (deadline) or the level of performance of the subordinate is below expectations.
4. Be passionate
The attitude of your subordinates is usually an extension of your attitude. If you are lively and take your job seriously, your subordinates will follow suit naturally.
One good way to motivate your employees is to be motivated yourself. If you have high morale, your subordinates’ morale will be high too. Good leaders do their jobs passionately. When you do, your subordinate will do the same.
This will create an enjoyable work environment and others will want to join the flow.
5. Care about your subordinates’ wellbeing
All good and memorable leaders truly and genuinely care for their subordinates. This care begins with creating good working conditions, give credits when due, make provision for career growth, reward hard work by prompt payment of remunerations, raises and bonuses.
Other ways include but not limited to employee award or recognitions, telecommuting, remote working, flexible work hours, training and workshops, organizing fun activities once in a while.
As a good boss, you must see to the welfare of your subordinates by asking about their family and interests. You should genuinely help out when you can if they have any challenge.
To know and understand somebody, you have to listen to them. All good leaders I know make time to listen to their subordinates. They pay rapt attention to the staff while speaking with genuine interest.
Good leaders do not selectively listen to their subordinates neither do they interrupt them. You should allow your subordinate to fully relate their issues to you. It should be made to know that you have heard and understood your subordinates by asking questions or clarify what you have heard. You can then give seasoned answers to questions that the subordinate may have.
You must show both verbal and non-verbal signs that you are genuinely listening to them. This builds trust within the team and there would be reduced chance of misinformation or isolation. You gain insights and valuable information when you listen to your subordinates concerning current and future projects.
7. Be available and accessible
One of Leo Buscaglia’s quote states: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
If you want to be a good leader, you must make yourself available to your employees and other subordinates. A key advantage of being an accessible leader is that your subordinates will be comfortable talking to you about the job at hand, how to prevent problems and improve processes.
At times, the employee has first-hand information that if shared with the boss will improve the situation. Being an available and accessible boss builds that trust-based relationship. As an available boss, before soliciting for valuable ideas, solutions, feedback, suggestions, and recommendations, you will get it.
8. Set a high standard for yourself
All great athletes set and break their record. Talk of Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt, C. Ronaldo, and other great athletes have broken and set new records. In your quest to become a great leader who sets a high goal and standard for subordinates, you must be capable of achieving that goal.
You will notice that employees tend to take their jobs as seriously as the boss (you) takes it. You need not motivate by word of mouth before your actions and great performances motivate them. Regularly address deviations, challenges, and shortcomings revealed by performance assessment and evaluations before they accumulate.
9. Acknowledge the input of your subordinates
It is easier to take all credit and push blames (we will get to blames later). Many a boss takes all the credit leaving out the team and subordinates that made it happen. A good boss remembers to recognize the input of the team members.
This is a great source of motivation since the subordinates know that his or her contribution will be appreciated. It doesn’t cost anything to admit and recognize your subordinates’ contribution, instead, you gain from it by getting more co-operation, collaboration and trust among the team. Better performance and overall success of the team are also assured.
10. Don’t push blames
One of the key characteristics of a good boss is that they don’t blame others. When you are wrong, admit it and make corrections. When others are wrong, correct them discretely and in love. Do not make your subordinates feel worse.
Apart from not pushing blame on them, be sure to defend your subordinates publicly. Sometimes, this may mean you solve the problem before the affected party knows it.
Make this your policy – stop the bus if you can; if you can’t, pull your subordinates out of the bus’ way. If you still can’t, jump in front of the bus and take the hit.
11. Appreciate your subordinates for a job well done
It is not enough to just acknowledge that your subordinate performed the task well, you must praise him. An adage from an African country says “praises makes work go faster.”
Whenever any human being is praised, it is a stepping stone to do more. Always create an opportunity to appreciate your subordinates either privately or publicly. You can appreciate your subordinates with word of mouth, recommendations or material things.
One of the key advantages of appreciations is that it motivates. It is one of the easiest ways to motivate your subordinates. Other advantages are boosted morale; more commitment; better performance, an enjoyable work environment; less absenteeism and turnover; and overall job satisfaction.
12. Share relevant information
A problem shared is a problem half-solved. The same thing goes for success stories. A warning though. It is not all the information you share, you should only share the relevant ones.
People lose trust in leaders that spill out all their content at every chance they get. This does not mean you should leave your subordinates in the dark by hoarding information, no! You must know how to use good judgment, thoughtfulness, delicacy, and sensitivity in determining which information you can share publicly or privately.
You must also be timely in your information sharing. An example of relevant information includes updates on the current job the team is working on, updates on the performance of the organization, challenges, and solutions.
Do not make it hard for your subordinates to know what is going on. When you are giving information, you should have a purpose for that information you share and ensure that the purpose is met. Sharing information is a way of building trust, showing transparency and eliminating misinformation or inaccurate information.
13. Respect your subordinates
One of the key traits of a good leader is that he respects his subordinates and it shows in how he treats them. Few of the ways of disrespecting your subordinates are losing your temper, sulking, not sharing credit, yelling, bullying, indecision, favouritism, insincerity, gossiping, poor communication – selective and distracted listening, all-knowing attitude, failing on promises, etc.
The list is inexhaustible but at least you get a general idea. Meanwhile, we are not here to talk about bad bosses but how to be a good boss. Respect is not demanded, it is earned. To be a good leader, you have to earn the respect of your subordinates.
A workplace without respect will be unproductive and harmful. A few ways to earn respect is by having empathy on your subordinates, delegating and trusting them, giving attention, offering common courtesies, empowerment, ensuring the well-being of the employee are met and protecting your employee rights among others.
14. Delegate aptly
The first rule of management according to Anthea Turner is delegation. You cannot do everything yourself. All great leaders know this. You should give control and authority to your subordinates when needed.
You must understand the various strengths and capacities of each of your subordinates and must delegate work and power to them accordingly. As you delegate, the job will get done faster and you will have free time to focus on other things like strategic thinking, creativity, innovation, and long term plans.
The appropriate delegation also builds trust and enables the delegate to learn new skills, expand and improve his or her skills.
15. Authorize subordinates
Within the scope of each employee’s know-how, great leaders allow autonomy and authority to decide on some jobs. This liberty allows problems and challenges to be fixed without necessarily coming to you. It also reduces the need to come to see you every time for ideas, suggestions and solutions implementation.
16. Understand that each subordinate is unique
Good leaders know that their subordinates are unique. The ability and capacity of each subordinate differ. You should see your subordinates as chess (with different pieces) rather than as checkers (same pieces).
Even though functions and skills may overlap, but there is this trait that is peculiar to each person. It might just be attentive to details, speed, writing skill, analytical, innovation, something must differ! That’s why you don’t need to compare them or tell one to be like the other.
Some people like to break new grounds, while some like to finish off what others started. Recognize the strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and habits. You should understand this and apply accordingly.
17. Be consistent
I need not say that it should be in good things that you need to be consistent. Rule one of building trust is never to lie. The bible says “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and ‘no’ be ‘no’!” let your word be your bound, your subordinate will always respect you for that. You should be yourself all the time, not wavering or being so unpredictable.
18. Be the point of refuge
You must be a haven for your employees. Learn to keep your cool and your head straight during a crisis or challenging times. The first step is not to look lost when everything is going erratic.
You cannot afford to look confused as this may lead to a loss of confidence. You should critically think of a way out of the situation even when you are under pressure. Do not crack because, if you do, it will affect the whole team.
19. Invest in your team
Yes, you don’t owe them anything but a wage in return but think about how you can invest in your team.
Constant pieces of training and development are always a great idea, and you will be the one reaping the benefits alongside them.
You should want to lift everybody in your business up to a level, instead of leaving them at the bottom.
20. Be human
Hey, you know you are not superhuman. Don’t be afraid to show that you are also flesh and blood. Act natural, express your emotions positively and always put it in check when you need support.
You can also think about what you could do for your subordinates unlike what they could do for you all the time. Always have their best interest at heart and I see you being a good leader.
21. Think about physical and mental health
There are many ways that you should be looking after your employees. Considering their mental and physical health is one of them.
Firstly, if they’re spending hours sitting at computer screens, you should check out the regulations, and look into the display screen equipment training by EssentialSkillz.
Secondly, be an ambassador for good mental health, and be approachable about any issues.
Trust your employees to do their jobs. This is why you recruited them for the role! Not having these qualities isn’t good for your professional relationships or the happiness of your team. So, being a great leader isn’t that hard, is it?
Good luck to you as you become the leader that you need to be in the workplace. That’s the first step to make your workplace a happier and more productive environment!