Whether it was studying historical figures in grade school, or reading the biography of a favorite Fortune 500 CEO, we are all familiar with what it means to be a leader. Ask anyone on the street and they will be able to rattle off a slew of leaders – both admirable and abominable – at the drop of the hat.
However, actually learning to lead takes a lot more than a familiarity with the greats.
As someone relatively new to management, I’ve found myself thinking hard on how I can improve my leadership style and help my team be as successful as possible. Although I definitely don’t have all the answers, below are a few initial nuggets of knowledge I’ve stumbled upon while forming my own approach to leadership:
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
A great way to get started on your leadership journey is to pick someone in your life who you think is a great leader. Keep your eyes and ears open and watch how they handle situations – What makes them successful? Why do you connect with their leadership style? Is there something they are doing that you would like to emulate? Once you have identified why their approach resonates with you, you can learn how to incorporate it into your own approach.
Do your research
There are countless books, articles, and thought pieces, about innovating leadership and management. I recommend flipping through a few of these and see what tips work well with your personal method. Some great leadership book recommendations from our CEO Lindsay Nahmiache include How To Win Friends and Influence People, Tribes, and The Truth About Leadership.
Establish a sincere and open channel for communication
When you find yourself in a leadership/managerial position, it is important to maintain a strong level of communication with your team. This includes communicating goals, deliverables, and timelines in a clear manner, as well as being available and approachable to answer any questions. The clearer you are with your expectations and the more available you are to help hurdle any roadblocks, the more successful your team will be in the long run.
How you say something is everything
No one is perfect, and you shouldn’t expect them to be – so always give positive feedback and make mistakes seem fixable. When giving feedback on a project or campaign, don’t focus on the negatives and what went wrong. Instead, give helpful suggestions on how something can improve. A good way to offer suggestions is to draw on your personal experiences and what has worked for you in the past. For example, if a teammate is having trouble with deadlines, you can approach the problem by offering a helpful solution (“what has worked for me in the past is setting a calendar invite to help me remember”) as opposed to critiquing their current state.
Never stop learning
Every new situation offers an opportunity to improve your approach and push your team to accomplish new heights. Did you handle difficult circumstances with grace? Did you fumble during a particularly tricky situation? What did you wish you would have done differently? It’s not always going to be smooth sailing, and you should look at each bump in the road as an opportunity to build on your skills – regardless of the outcome.
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