Need to get better as a leader? We all do. Here are five steps you can take today!
1. Take care of yourself
This may seem strange, but if you would take better care of your body and soul, you would be a better leader. No one needs your hanger (hungry anger), fatigue, or emotionally depleted self to do the extra instead of eating the nutritious snack, taking the cat nap, taking the walk, meditating or reading or praying. You need to take care of you so you can be strong to take care of others! Taking care of yourself also means resourcing yourself. There is no excuse for a leader not to read (or listen to books) and resource themselves on how to lead better or better understand their field every single day. Make this a priority. As you grow, your team and your organization will grow too!
2. Look your team in the eye
Eye contact does wonders for us all. And on a team, it can build trust and indicate that you really are listening. I know you think you can type on your phone or computer and still listen. Don’t. Choose to look up, look in the eyes of the person talking to you, and really listen. Being present for your team is huge and will help everyone be their best.
3. Say one encouraging thing today
Some leaders don’t like to encourage unless people “really earn it.” That’s fine. But it is up to you to look for where they are earning it already. Encourage your team. Say something about what you see in them. Thank them for their hard work and effort. Notice improvement. We had a difficult meeting recently. Things weren’t done the way they should have been. But there had been improvement in some areas. I didn’t just call them to excellence (ahem) in the area where they were missing it. I also encouraged and noticed where they had improved. Most people won’t play a game they can’t win. Encouragement says, “not only can you win, but I think you are a winner!”
4. Ask lots of questions
Don’t settle for the surface questions. Ask questions that force people to think. Ask questions that prompt research. Also ask questions so you have a clue what is going on around you. It’s easy to make judgments based on a small part of the story. Start the confrontation, the conversation, with “tell me about” rather than “how could you”. If you need help having those tough conversations, check out this podcast. It has been a super help to my team.
5. Insist on written follow up
My team knows that I want, need, demand written follow up from meetings and conversations. It is too easy for you to say one thing and your team hears something else. When they write summaries of the hallway conversation or staff meeting, you have a chance to see what they heard and correct it if necessary. We have found that written communication is invaluable. To avoid the chaos of a million emails, we use Basecamp to communicate and manage projects. I highly suggest it as a leadership enhancing tool.
What else can you do today to be a better leader?
Who do you know that needs this encouragement? Don’t stop now, share!
On a personal note, there are so many other ways to be better today, but as a Christ-follower, I have found one practice trumps them all. I pray for my team. I pray for their families, their hopes, their dreams. I pray that God will give me insight in how to deal with them and how to encourage them. I pray because it changes my perspective and opens my heart. And I pray because I believe God hears me. Inviting God into the midst of every moment has changed my life, and I think it will change yours too.
Photo cred: Northpoint Community Church - we are going through the Book of James right now - Grit and Grace! Check us out!