If you’re a manager or owner of a small business, chances are you already know that great leadership at work is key to having a successful team and organization. While it’s true that employees value being paid well and having a great benefits package, good leadership is a major factor in reducing employee turnover and maximizing productivity and motivation. If there’s one thing all managers should understand well, it’s how to be a leader at work.
But what does being a leader in the workplace mean, and how can you improve your leadership skills at work? We’ve put together five tips on how to be an exceptional leader at work and even improve your leadership skills.
1. Communicate Regularly with Your Employees
One of the best ways to make your employees feel important and recognized at work is to communicate with them regularly. And it’s not just employees who benefit — when managers create an environment where open communication is the default, employees are more likely to speak up when they notice problems. And let’s face it, employees can be better than managers at spotting problems.
How often should leaders and managers communicate with their employees? Ideally, at least once a day. You don’t have to set up formal meetings with every employee. Still, if you make it a priority to have daily morning meetings or afternoon rounds, you’ll find that your employees are more connected to leadership and more motivated to do a good job, even during difficult times.
2. Understand What Motivates Your Employees
We often talk about “leaders,” “teams,” and “employees” in the general sense, but sometimes we forget that people are different and unique. What’s important to one employee on your team may be very different from what others value. For example, some employees need to feel intellectually challenged at work to feel satisfied. Others need to understand how their contributions matter to the project goals, and still, others need to know that their company is protecting their family with a good benefits plan.
As a leader, it’s up to you to understand what motivates everyone on your team. And when your employees come to you for support or guidance, use your knowledge to keep them motivated and committed.
3. Praise in Public, Criticize in Private
This one is fairly simple. If you have something nice to say about an employee, make sure other people are aware of it. And when you need to correct someone, do it one-on-one.
Why? Because it’s human nature to get a confidence boost when we’re praised in front of other people. It also gives the entire team an idea of what kind of behavior is desirable. On the other hand, public criticism can bring shame and humiliation. Employees are then more likely to be less productive and feel resentful, ruining the entire team’s morale.
That said, sometimes it’s important to publicly highlight employee behavior as unacceptable. Leaders and managers can do this by criticizing privately and later making a public announcement that doesn’t identify or shame the individual. For example, after giving an employee a private warning about breaking company rules, you can follow up with a message to the team, “An employee recently broke X company rule. I want to remind everyone that this is unacceptable because of Y.”
There’s one big exception to this rule. If the criticism or correction has to do with public behavior — for example, disrespectful language, harassment, or bullying — then you should be clear to everyone that such behavior is not acceptable and that you’re taking the appropriate steps to ensure it never happens again. Otherwise, your team may think that the organization accepts offensive language and harassment.
4. Be Accountable to Your Team
Most people think about being accountable to their peers and bosses. But accountability should come from leadership, too. When leaders are accountable to their teams, they show that they’re holding themselves to the same standards as everyone else.
How can leaders be more accountable in the workplace? The next time you finish a team meeting, don’t forget to give yourself goals to achieve and action items to do as well. And just like you should stay on top of the team’s progress, your team should feel empowered to ask you about your own progress toward the things you promised you’d do. Did you commit to putting together a wellness program for the company? Keep your team updated on your progress. And when you haven’t made your deadlines, let your employees know the reason and how you’ll meet your commitment as soon as possible.
5. Trust Your Team with Delegation
Good leadership in the workplace is all about trusting your employees. Not only does that mean trusting them to do the right thing when you’re not looking, but it also means trusting them with responsibilities without micromanaging. One of the hardest tasks of a leader is to delegate. But delegation is a critical part of good leadership for two reasons. First, it’s simply impossible to do everything yourself. While it’s tempting to take on more work than you can handle, it’s a quick path to job burnout, and your negative mood will affect the whole team. You’ll also have less time to do what you’re actually supposed to do: be a great workplace leader, manage team motivation, and focus on the bigger picture.
Second, delegating tasks shows employees that you trust in their ability and reliability. People want to show that they’re competent and reliable, and getting a task from the boss is one way to do that. Task delegation also promotes an atmosphere of accountability. When everyone knows what each other should be doing, it creates an environment of transparency. People know that the team is relying on them to move the project or organization forward.
Great Leadership at Work is Worth the Time and Effort
Becoming a leader at work isn’t instant. It takes time, effort, and patience. But it’s worth everything if you want to keep your employees happy and motivated. With good leadership, you’re sure to see a return on your investment with more productivity and a better atmosphere in the workplace. That’s why Confie is so committed to leadership as a way to promote its mission, culture, and values. Learn more about Confie by getting in touch or calling us at (714) 252 2500.