This stat always amazed me:
65% of Americans say getting rid of their boss would make them happier than a salary increase.
I don’t know if business leaders realize that sentiment. People want you to be a great leader. They want you to succeed so that they can succeed and enjoy what they do.
But many aren’t getting it.
If you’re looking to improve your leadership then here are some items to work on…
1. Set An Example
People may do what you tell them because you’re the boss. But they will always be able to figure out if you’re a hypocrite and nothing will cut into your leadership appeal than being a hypocrite.
One that always drove me crazy was when leaders would demand punctuality, but then they would often be a few minutes late for meetings. It easy as someone in a leadership position to feel that your time is valuable. That you’re busier than others. But being a hypocrite with the demands you put on your team and the actions you display will lose you respect faster than just about anything else.
2. Eliminate Micromanaging
It’s bad leadership.
You probably hated it when you experienced it coming up in your career. Yet for some reason it’s a tendency for many of us. We want to control situations and thus we ending up taking on too much control.
I just finished reading Ted Turner’s autobiography and he talked about what he felt was one of his secrets to success. He would figure things out to a certain extent on his own. He would think them through. He would talk it out with others. He would try it out.
Then when it was implemented he turned complete control over to a manager and let the manager manage. He didn’t get involved.
Ted took his company from a regionally successful billboard company to one of the largest media companies in the world in just a couple decades.
3. Focus On What You Control
A big part of leading is knowing that even though you’re in a position of power that you still don’t control a whole lot. You have a lot of responsibility. You have different control than others in the organization, but you don’t control every little thing.
This gets into the micromanaging aspect. The more you accept that you don’t control everything the happier you and your team will be.
A big one for leaders is your competition. You can’t control what your competition does. Why fret over it? It can drive you and the team crazy. Focus on what you’re doing.
4. Eliminate Advice
Nobody wants it. Even if they ask for it they often don’t really want it.
But as a leader it’s easy to think that you have wisdom to give and that you’re doing a good thing by giving it.
Think about how you feel about getting advice. Even from someone that might be in a higher position than you. Chances are you don’t really like it. Maybe you even get angry about it.
There is a balance to being a leader. You have to know when to offer help and guidance without giving advice. Most leaders could cut back a lot on the advice.
A quick way to improve is to ask more questions. Help your team figure out solutions to challenges. Don’t tell them solutions.
5. Hire Better
I’m a big believer that a leader needs to really understand themselves. Their strengths. Their core values. Knowing yourself allows you to grow as an individual, but it also allows you to align yourself with others so you can work together.
Let’s say that one of your core values is punctuality. If you hire someone that is talented, but that isn’t punctual they are going to drive you crazy even when they’re doing great work.
Better hiring eliminates a lot of frustration for you and your team. It starts with an understanding of yourself.
6. Self Confidence
Maybe an overlooked one with leaders, but very important. You might actually see this with leaders that are put in leadership positions because of their great work, but they’re not confident in their ability to manage people. That lack of confidence can show and it can affect performance.
If you’re not confident in something relating to your work it seems that repetition can play a big role. For example, if you’re uncomfortable dealing with employee conflict then start mitigating issues. It might not go well the first time, the second time or the few times after that, but the more you do it the more confidence you build.
It just takes work and patience.
7. Make Decisions
Seems simple, but it can be difficult for some leaders. Maybe it’s because the decisions are tougher when you’re in a higher position. Maybe the implications are high. The risk. Maybe there are just so many decisions that the weight of it all becomes crippling.
But the reality is that your team expects you to make decisions. They don’t expect you to always make the right decisions, but they want to keep moving forward and the only way to do that is to decide and move on. Right or wrong. It’s better to keep moving.
You hear it all the time with coaches in the NFL. They’re looking for consistency from players.
You probably look for it from your team. But the truth is that they’re looking for it from you as well. If one week you’re telling them that deadlines matter and the next week you’re telling them that deadlines aren’t important and that they need to improve quality you’re sending mixed messages.
The less consistent you are with what you say and do the more frustrated your team becomes. And their work will suffer for it and the responsibility lands right at your door.
9. Direct, Clear
Nobody likes leaders that kind of dance around a topic or decision. Passive aggressiveness can come into play. Sarcasm. All kinds of things.
From leaders, we want directness. We want to know where they stand and what they expect from us. And the instructions and expectations should be as clear and simple as possible.
The more you hide your intentions and expectations the less you’ll get from your team.
Commitment to what you’re doing and what your team is doing. You also see this in the NFL. Players want to know that a team is committed to them for the long-term. They want know feel security. They want long-term contracts.
When great leaders make decisions they’re committed. They take time to deliberate, but once they come to a decision they trust themselves. They don’t go from knee jerk reaction to knee jerk reaction.
Bonus: Embracing The Uncomfortable
Finally, great leaders are willing to change. They’re willing to get a little uncomfortable with something new. They don’t necessarily take the company in all kinds of new directions, but they’re wiling to listen. They’re willing to try new things and see what other options are out there.
Imagine if Ted Turner would have been uneasy about getting into TV. It was completely new to him. He could have stuck with billboards. That would have been safe, but he was willing to get a little uncomfortable and it allowed him to take his company to incredible heights.
It’s not easy being a leader. Sure, it comes easier to some than for others. But I think leadership can be learned. I think it can be developed. It takes intention and a willingness to learn. And the items above are things I’ve seen the best leaders do that their teams appreciate most.