12 Things You Can Do Starting Today to Be a Better Leader

12 Things You Can Do Starting Today to Be a Better Leader
Image credit: Harsh Patel | Flickr

Some believe certain people are born leaders. Others think an individual can learn to be a leader. Regardless of how you may feel you obtained your leadership skills, there are always ways to enhance your abilities. This list of suggestions may inspire you to reevaluate your leadership abilities and address any issues you find need improvement.

1. Be a positive role model.

As a leader, your actions set the tone for what is appropriate behavior in the workplace. Exhibit actions that you want your team to emulate. You may establish rules of conduct or have expectations for how staff should behave at work and what actions will not be tolerated. The best way to encourage these specific actions is to correctly and precisely demonstrate these behaviors yourself.

Related: Farewell Derek Jeter, a True Role Model and Leader

2. Be humble.

Share the credit for successful projects with your team. If you make a mistake, readily admit to your error. Apologize when needed and admit when you do not have the solution to a problem. Demonstrate the willingness to seek answers from other sources. Such actions show your human side and help you gain the respect of employees and customers alike.

When you admit a mistake your employees feel safe admitting their mistakes, instead playing the "blame game." Accepting that individuals make mistakes will create a more cooperative atmosphere in your company.

3. Practice effective communication.

Let your team know they may openly discuss workplace issues with you. Be approachable. Give employees your attention, keep an open mind and make eye contact as they speak, (don't be working on your next project or email.) Maintain the confidentially of the conversation. You can build trust this way. Be sure your staff knows of your expectations for them. Quickly address any misunderstandings. Make a note of what was discussed and put in a private email to your employee, if appropriate. This will help keep misunderstandings at a minimum.

4. Find a mentor.

A confident leader realizes there is always more to learn and will turn to a trusted friend or colleague for their opinion of a given issue or to receive feedback on their job performance. Seeking the advice from someone with more experience is not a sign of weakness.

Related: A Girl's Guide to Finding an Awesome Mentor (and Being One)

5. Be emotionally aware.

Business is ultimately about dealing with people. While some may say emotions have no place in the business world, wise leaders strive to be aware of the sensitivities of others. These leaders learn to acknowledge different opinions and consider background information to better understand those around them. Emotions usually reveal the deeper, most important and relevant points of personal interactions. It is an important area to explore more deeply.

6. Encourage creativity.

Let your team know you are open to their ideas. Empower them to take their ideas to the next level by giving positive feedback and constructive advice as warranted. The opportunity to present and try out ideas can lead employees to deeper commitment, enhanced problem-solving abilities and greater productivity. Reward creativity and recognize that these actions help your staff develop their full potential.

7. Be passionate about your work.

Leaders must demonstrate a commitment to the goals of the company. Show your staff how strongly you believe in the organizational goals and how much you value their contribution to this endeavor. If you want dedicated employees, be dedicated yourself. Don't hesitate to speak passionately about what you believe in.

8. Know your team.

Learn about your employees. Ask about their families or recreational activities they enjoy. Politely ask how things are going for them. Doing so will demonstrate that you care about them as human beings and do not consider them just another name on the company payroll.

Jot down this information so you don't forget areas that are important to your employee. Be sure to include remote workers. Review these notes before an interview or progress report with an employee so you can make appropriate comments that show you are thinking about them.

Related: 25 Ways to Lead, Inspire and Motivate Your Team to Greatness

9. Think positive.

It is easy to be positive when things are going well but a good leader will remain confident when things go wrong. They embrace failures and inspire their team to consider such events as opportunities to learn. A positive outlook will help your staff remain encouraged and create an overall upbeat environment where people will want to remain. Thinking and acting positive go hand-in-hand. Never slight anyone, in or out of your employ.

10. Be yourself.

All leaders have their own style of dealing with people. Talk with your mentor or supervisor to help identify your strengths and weaknesses. Seek advice on how to enhance your weaker skills and utilize your stronger assets to their maximum potential. Obtain feedback from your staff as how they view your management style. Share some information about your personal life to help your staff learn about you. Plan a happy hour where business is not discussed and everyone can be themselves.

11. Study past leaders.

Take a look at those who have previously held your position. Examine why they failed and why they succeeded. Become aware of common mistakes. Compare your leadership style to theirs. Also, take a look at your peers to compare their progress while taking  into consideration variables such as location and economic factors.

Your leadership style doesn't have to be the same as a previous leader in your company or position. In fact, your leadership style shouldn't be the same as anyone else's. Improve your style, but stay real.

12. Challenge your staff.

Employees may become bored and dissatisfied if they are performing the same tasks and projects each day. Give your staff new challenges that are within their abilities. Provide constructive feedback as they work on new projects. Learning and mastering new challenges will give your staff a sense of accomplishment. It shows that you have confidence in their skills and value them as part of the organization. There are many skill learning opportunities on line that can be worked on during working hours.

Related: 4 Ways to Motivate Your Staff to Take Big Risks