How to Become a More Effective Leader

From Steve Jobs to Sheryl Sandberg, effective leaders have the capacity to inspire audiences and empower their employees. Executives of well-led businesses even see their stock price increase 12 times more than inefficient companies.

Effective leaders are visionaries who inspire innovation by motivating top performance from their employees. They do this by creating a shared vision to unify their team, fostering collaboration and identifying each person’s unique strengths.

Being an effective leader also enhances your ability to direct teams and successfully manage projects. Yet 71 percent of employers say their leaders are not ready to guide their organizations into the future.

If you’ve been given the opportunity to be a leader, or want to become one, then take advantage of the different ways you can motivate people. Below are the top tips you need to become a more effective leader.

Lead By Example

According to a recent study, one of the largest leadership challenges is managing change and innovation. Yet by pushing people to go out of their comfort zone, effective leaders can motivate their co-workers and guide their organizations to success. To do this, leaders show their team the way by doing it themselves first.

You can inspire your employees by being the first to embrace change. When adopting new policies or procedures, determine how you plan to communicate company announcements, and craft a message that inspires people to accept the new guidelines. 

Be Decisive

Being decisive is the capacity to make decisions in an efficient manner to achieve a result. Each situation has a number of potential solutions, and when it comes time to making a final decision, an effective leader should be confident in the outcome.

Effective leaders have the ability to inspire a shared vision among colleagues and do not hesitate when it comes time to act. It’s also easier to be decisive when your team shares a common goal. Be firm on your demands, and don’t back down on your vision. As you become more decisive, you’ll know when to stick with your instincts and make difficult decisions.

Welcome Failure

Failure is a crucial stepping-stone toward success. Not every decision you make will result in a positive outcome, but realize this is to be expected—and know that failure can often lead to a bigger achievement.

Take responsibility for the problem, and be honest about what went wrong. An inaccurate representation of the issue affects everyone on your team, and your co-workers will value your honesty. In fact, a recent study found that 61 percent of employees viewed admitting mistakes as one of the most important traits to have as an effective leader.

When failure happens, such as an assignment went over budget by 15 percent or an important project was not delivered by deadline, then meet with your team afterwards to discuss where the problem occurred and how to avoid future dilemmas. Also figure out what you need to get out of difficult patterns that may be affecting your team’s efficiency, such as unproductive meetings or little one-on-one time with colleagues.

Respect Your Co-workers’ Opinions

The more diverse your workplace, the more innovative your organization can be. Your co-workers will approach a situation from a different perspective and background. Be respectful of other people’s opinions by trying to see things from their point of view, and encourage feedback among colleagues.

When you try to understand another person’s perspective, you may end up learning something new. But even if you don’t, you will still find it easier to appreciate your co-workers, regardless of their opinions. A collaborative environment where your teammates’ opinions are heard—even if disagreed upon—is where the best ideas are formed and where innovation takes place.

Know When to Delegate (And When to Jump In)

Efficiency isn’t just about changing priorities or working on tasks in a different order. As an effective leader, it’s important to know when to delegate tasks and when to complete them yourself. Assigning responsibilities allows you to decrease your workload, which helps you focus on the most crucial tasks you need to complete.

Before delegating a task, ask yourself:

  • Is there another person who has or can be given the necessary information or skills to complete the assignment?
  • Does the job provide an opportunity to build and develop a teammate’s skill set?
  • Is this an assignment that will happen again in the future?
  • Is there enough time to delegate the task efficiently?
  • Is there any reason why I shouldn’t delegate this job?
  • Is it critical that I do it myself?

Build and Grow Relationships

Establishing relationships is an important part of being an effective leader. Since trust is the foundation of any mutually beneficial partnership, it’s important to build and maintain relationships by promoting trust. You can do this by providing value to others, such as complimenting your teammates on a job well done or teaching an important skill that helps your co-workers become more efficient.

You can also build relationships by accepting others as they are and finding common ground. Be authentic, and find people with whom you share a natural connection. By making an effort to be interested in your co-workers, you will more easily earn their gratitude and cooperation.

Be An Effective Communicator

Communicating effectively helps your employees work together more efficiently, and keeps everyone on the same page. To do this, you can:

  • Start with What’s Important: Start any discussion with what’s most important at hand, making sure that employees understand the context of the conversation and can follow up with any questions.
  • Set Expectations Early: Communicate upfront what you expect from your team. Get to know what other people need early, so you can meet their expectations—and yours.
  • Actively Listen: Effective leaders don’t just talk, they listen. Active listening helps build rapport and creates stronger relationships. Be focused to what your employees are saying, and take note of their nonverbal communication, such as eye contact, body language, and posture.
  • Provide Constructive Feedback: Criticism doesn’t have to be negative, and it can have a positive impact on professional growth. When delivering feedback, be specific. Explain why you don’t like something and how you would change it. Make sure your tone isn’t overly critical or condescending, and restate your colleague’s value to your company. Let them know that you’re offering this feedback because you want to see them succeed.
  • Address Concerns Immediately and in Person: Issues will always arise. The sooner you address the problem, the faster you can prevent it from affecting your co-workers—and becoming an even larger issue. Always address the concern in person to avoid alienating colleagues or having them misinterpret what you’re saying.

Becoming an effective leader is not just beneficial to you, or your career. It helps you foster strong relationships with your co-workers, maximize your team’s efficiency, and guide your company to success.