Everyone can think of a leader. A public figure they respect or detest. The boss they remember for making a difference. The individual who could inspire an organisation to make a difficult change. Leaders have a vital role to play in organisations and their decisions often directly shape those who report into them. Yet they often become leaders without any formal training other than perhaps having experience and practice at being a leader. True many organisations put in place structured leadership development programmes but even these tend to exist within something of an echo chamber and whilst they may include opportunities for self-reflection and personal improvement they are often done so far away from the office and the realities of the day job.
Leaders can be (either by choice or by accident) far from the work that is done in their teams and unaware of the day to day results and consequences. Decisions based solely on leadership can keep teams headed in the wrong direction. Good leaders need insights to improve what they do and how they do it. So how should you go about this?
Ask your people
An important approach that can often be overlooked is to ask your people what they think. Survey your employees on questions that can help you take action and become a better leader. Seek to ask for unbiased feedback on how your organisation is performing and the changes that you can put in place to improve your culture. Ask respondents to give evidence in their feedback rather than generalisations.
Reflect on your own abilities
Developing leadership skills takes time. There isn't an easy book you can read or a course you can attend. It needs a thorough examination of your strengths and weaknesses and this examination needs to be sustained - don't just do it once. Critically evaluate your weaknesses and prioritise the things you know you can improve. Get feedback to understand how these improvements are being received and keep improving the areas that have yet to show results.
Lead by example
We've said this a few times regarding effective change management delivery, but leaders need to inspire their people by their actions not just by their words. Your staff will respect you for putting things into practice and acting as a role model for them in their own performance and leadership to their teams and colleagues. Care about your people. An employee of yours who feels you do not believe in them will not perform well and in turn not give good leadership to their direct reports.
Learn from your team
Leaders don't have to be alone in making the decisions. Your teams can and should play an important part in sharing their own ideas and plans. Welcome new ideas, acknowledge and even reward these if possible and empower your staff to innovate and improve things. Involve them in solving problems and involving others to make things better. Listen to your teams, value their feedback and suggestions and use the knowledge you gain to put their ideas (where appropriate) into practice.
Don't stop learning
Leaders will never stop growing, learning and developing. Do more of the things that are of greater value to you and seek out ways to address and improve any leadership gaps or skills gaps you may have. Learn from other organisations, other approaches, other cultures, other competitors. Whatever it takes to help you address your leadership goals.
Leadent Digital helps organisations to achieve transformational change. We love developing apps that transform customer experience and help you deliver a more frictionless service experience across all of your contact points and channels. Why not get in touch to tell us more about your current priorities?