7 Simple Ways to Become a Better Leader ...

I'm always on the lookout for ways to become a better leader. When I'm put in charge, I want to ensure the people looking to me to respect me and feel that I respect them in return. It isn't always easy being a leader in your professional or personal life. Luckily, there are quite a few easy ways to become a better leader. Trying a few of them not only improves your leadership abilities, but your confidence as well.

1. Find a Role Model

While every leader is different, one of the easiest ways to become a better leader is to emulate someone you admire. Find a great leader and ask the people they're in charge of what qualities they like best about the person. Talk to the leader and ask how they handle daily challenges. Use these qualities and techniques to become a better leader yourself. If you run into problems, don't hesitate to talk to your role model again.

2. Be Positive

I had the extreme displeasure of having a boss that always had a negative attitude about everything. Even when she tried to motivate, her speech would end with something like โ€œmaybe you'll be able to do something good.โ€ As a leader, you have to stay positive. If you're not, the people you're leading won't be positive either. If everyone's miserable, the work will reflect that.

3. Encourage New Ideas

Being a leader doesn't mean you're the only one who gets to talk. Encourage your team to contribute new ideas. The more you listen to and even incorporate their ideas, the more valued they feel. While you don't have to use every single idea, a good brainstorming session may very well result in creative ideas that make the entire team look great. Be willing to step aside and let others have their say.

4. Be Clear

People are looking to you for leadership. This isn't the time to be wishy-washy. One of my old bosses would give me a to-do list each week that clearly stated which tasks had to be done. I spent less time asking questions and more time actually getting work done. It was incredibly efficient and helped prevent misunderstandings. No matter how you assign tasks, be clear in what you want the end result to be.

5. Be Approachable

So many leaders sit in their offices all day and rarely take the time to listen to their team. Make sure your team members know they can come and talk to you any time. Whether it's questions about the job at hand, sharing ideas, personal issues or problems at work, you need to be there to listen. I don't mean you have to be their best friend and listen to all the latest gossip, but be friendly and let your team know you're just one of them.

6. Reward Good Work

Remember when you were in school and the teacher wrote โ€œGood Jobโ€ on a paper or even personally told you what a great job you did on an assignment? It made you feel incredible, right? Team members need the same type of encouragement. Reward each team member when they do a good job. Whether it's a pat on the back, a friendly email or an actual reward like a longer break or lunch, let the team know their work is appreciated. It keeps morale up and shows the team you care.

7. Have a Sense of Humor

No matter how great of a leader you are, there are still going to be bad days. You could stress over it, pitch a fit or storm off. Or, you could just laugh it off. If your team sees you laughing about a mishap or making jokes out of a major failure, they'll be less stressed as well. A good sense of humor will keep you and your team sane, even on the worst days. This is probably the hardest one to master, but one of the most important.

Being a great leader is all about treating others as you'd want to be treated. If you don't want to be yelled at or talked down to, don't do it to your team. I always try to remain positive, communicate clearly and listen to what my team has to say. What are some of your tips for becoming a better leader?

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