Just starting in the business world? There’s a lot going on around you, and the skills and traits required to succeed may seem insurmountable. Even still, there’s one skill set you should acquire if you want to get anywhere in business, and that’s leadership.
Unfortunately, good leadership doesn’t always come easy. There are many people in leadership positions that have no idea what they’re doing. Either they steal all the credit and yell at their employees or they’re far too timid to take charge and let their employees walk all over them.
Whatever your struggles with leadership, it’s essential that you learn some valuable traits if you ever want to earn the respect of your employees and carry your business to great heights.
Here are some traits worth developing.
#1. Get Your Hands Dirty
It’s hard for employees to give you respect if you’re not willing to get your hands dirty. It doesn’t matter if it’s something as strenuous as building a pole barn or something as tiring as pushing paperwork, a great leader will grunt down with the rest of the crew until the work is done.
#2. Be Driven, But Humble
Be prepared to work harder and longer than any of your employees. Your passion is what will drive the company to new heights. However, as you go through this process, it’s easy to puff yourself up and become arrogant about your achievements. Avoid that temptation. You’ll need to remain calm and composed if you want your team to follow you willingly.
#3. Recognize Your Own Weaknesses
When you’re in charge, it’s easy to get caught up with your many talents. As a result, you’ll no doubt become arrogant, which can skew your perspective and make you, frankly, unpleasant to be around. Step back, and recognize your own weaknesses. This is the best way for you to continually improve your skills while swallowing a piece of humble pie.
#4. Acknowledge Others’ Strengths
Once you’ve evaluated your personal weaknesses, take a closer look at the strengths of others. Differing strengths are a major advantage to a company, and your team of highly talented people can come together and use their individual strengths to make something great. No company can rely on the talents of a single person, so it’s best to begin by acknowledging these strengths up front.
#5. Only Make Promises You Can Keep
There’s nothing more frustrating from an employee’s perspective than a boss who always makes empty promises. Your word becomes everything to these people, and if you say you’re going to do something, you better do it. It only takes one instance of falling through on a promise for your employees to lose confidence in you.
#6. Listen to Feedback
Most businesses have a standard of holding quarterly employee evaluations. These interviews assess an employee on their strengths and weaknesses, offering recommendations in the end for how to improve. You should seek the same type of feedback, but it doesn’t have to be through a formal interview. If an employee complains about something you can change, don’t ignore that feedback.
#7. Invest in Employees
Employees deserve to be rewarded for their efforts, both monetarily and emotionally. When someone does an exceptional job, tell them. When they’ve stayed with the company for an extended period of time and have shown exceptional effort, reward them with the raise they deserve. Every time you invest in an employee, you’re investing in your company.
#8. Earn Your Respect by Giving Respect
Earning respect is the ultimate goal, but it can’t be achieved without your first giving respect. Employees should feel they’re a vital asset to the company through your willingness to listen and learn from their opinions. Give credit where credit is due and treat employees like peers instead of peasants.
#9. Learn from Mistakes
As the old adage goes, “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” Every time a mistake is made, there’s a procedure to follow. Evaluate the problem, craft a solution, and learn a valuable lesson from it. The lesson doesn’t have to be profound, but when you tuck it away in your mind as a lesson learned, you’ll be more likely to avoid the same mistake in the future.
#10. Communicate Your Vision and Expectations Clearly
You might be extremely passionate about your vision and have certain expectations in mind for how it should be completed, but if you don’t communicate that, there’s no way for your employees to follow suit. Great leaders make sure their followers both hear and understand their meaning, even if it takes a few tries to get that communication right.
#11. Desire to Learn
Stagnant leaders get replaced with new blood and are quickly forgotten. It takes a certain desire to learn and grow to be a good leader who deserves the respect of their peers. Life is a learning curve, and if you don’t foster that curve, it’ll take you for all you’re worth.
#12. Delegate, Even If It’s Less Efficient
Sometimes delegating seems clunky and less efficient than simply doing the work yourself. However, delegation is a mark of the leader. It might seem easier not to, but delegating will prevent you from overloading yourself, as well as give others responsibilities that will make them feel like an important part of your corporation.
#13. Challenge Yourself
Some parts of your entrepreneurial journey will be loaded with exciting and overwhelming ventures, while others will feel a little less busy. When you find yourself with a little too much free time, look for a new challenge. You don’t need to kill yourself, but you should seek opportunities to grow so you can gain the expertise necessary to lead by example.
#14. Ask for Help and Advice When You Need It
Just because you’re in charge of one thing doesn’t mean you’re the smartest person on the planet. It’s always a good idea to ask for help when you’re not sure which direction to go. Sometimes that means leaning on an outside party with more experience in business, and sometimes it means gathering your employees together for a brainstorming meeting. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll find that you’ll grow in both knowledge and respect when you admit that you need help.
#15. Roll with the Punches
An idea might start out great, but through development, don’t be afraid to let it evolve and change to match your circumstances. Things often look better on paper than in practice, and seeing the need to change for the betterment of your company is a sign of maturity your employees can respect.
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