9 Opportunities You Have Every Day to Grow as a Leader
Entrepreneurs are responsible for inspiring and motivating your employees to fulfill your shared mission. Doing so requires constant learning and self-improvement.
While your business matures and its headcount grows, your best team members may feel the company culture has long changed from what it once was. Some may be poached by headhunters with tempting offers to work on new and exciting projects. Worse, others may find themselves hitting a plateau with their careers and skill sets.
Here are nine helpful tips to continue developing your leadership abilities while enhancing company culture, reducing employee turnover and empowering your workers to achieve more in their personal and professional lives.
1. Practice patience.
When things at work or at home go awry, avoid being reactionary. Step away from the situation and take a few minutes to process what is happening. This gives you room to breathe and headspace to make an informed and calculated decision. Things tend to turn out worse when you let your emotions to get the best of you. Oftentimes, that leads to negative consequences. By practicing patience, you take a more cautious and prudent approach to decision-making. Your partners, employees and vendors will appreciate that.
2. Recruit smart talent.
Many say that you are the average of your five closest friends. While that may be true about your personal and social life, at work you may find yourself more like your colleagues. To surround yourself with individuals who will help develop and foster better leadership habits, hire agencies, employees or contractors who excel at what they do, even if your business does not necessarily require their support. Having them around to improve your workplace environment may be just what you need to become a more effective and more impactful leader.
3. Be vulnerable.
Some CEOs believe it is best to shield workers from the harsher realities of the overall business. As a result, many leaders withhold a lot of critical information that may help employees produce better work and manage their own thoughts and emotions. Though it is prudent to avoid acting out when you feel moody or vulnerable, it is valuable to share your troubles and worries with your team.
Mental health is an increasingly important issue in entrepreneurship circles, so when you feel down or stressed, freely admit it. In the past, I have battled with anxiety and instead of covering it up, I acknowledge it and let others know when I am not at my best. Being open about when you are vulnerable can be a welcome relief. Many times, the people around you will be more willing to extend a helping hand too.
4. Try something different.
In his 2008 TED talk, self-help expert Tim Ferriss encouraged people to abandon their fears and learn anything. As you learn new things, you develop different perspectives about yourself and the world around you. By exposing yourself to fresh experiences, you discover new strategies for coping with stress at work and problem-solving.
Consider working alongside your peers in your factory’s newest assembly line for a day, or take a four-hour course on wakeboarding. You may be surprised by how simply doing something new can positively impact your performance as a leader.
5. Go against your conventions and your own intuition.
No one is perfect. Sometimes our intuition fails us. Accepting that fact allows you to operate with an open mind which leaves room for taking bold risks and serendipitously stumbling upon success. Every once in awhile, attempt two separate -- and possibly conflicting -- approaches to solving a problem. In some cases, you may find that your gut instinct was completely wrong and that the risk was well worth the reward.
6. Schedule time for rest, relaxation and sleep.
Every leader needs time to recharge. To avoid burnout and conquer stress, sleep more and consciously make time to rest and relax. One of the perks our employees love at Amerisleep is the opportunity to escape to the nap room any time during the day. I also encourage people to meditate and practice mindfulness to ground themselves and persevere through troubling situations.
7. Coach others.
Play the role of an instructor or teacher to reinforce previous lessons and further enhance your skills. By sharing what you already know with your peers, you help develop them as people and as professionals. Ideally, you will want to work closely with your most promising managers to groom them to lead your company later.
Provide team members with the autonomy and opportunity to discover and execute solutions to problems the business may face. Staff at Ohio University recommend, “Facilitate and stimulate problem solving – encourage trainees to share their ideas as a part of the problem-solving effort.”
8. Pay it forward.
Over the years, I have been the fortunate recipient of goodwill from strangers and support from my friends and family. Feeling grateful, I have made it a point to pay it forward by sharing my resources, knowledge and expertise with my staff, the local community and our customers.
Interestingly enough, volunteering is a powerful way to boost your leadership skills. Mike Michalowicz, CEO of Provendus Group, suggests, “Spend time learning how to motivate a group of volunteers when you can’t use a paycheck. You may be surprised at the people skills you come away with.”
9. Improve your diet and fitness.
What you put into your body and how you care for it matters. Small changes to your exercise routine and eating habits can have a profound impact on your happiness and performance at work. Eat more brain foods and schedule weekly workouts to stay fit. Developing healthy habits is empowering and admirable. Demonstrate to your employees that work-life balance is not a myth. As soon as they follow your lead, you may notice a remarkable change in the culture and energy at work.