Becoming a leader with a loyal following is no easy task. This is especially true because so many of the personality aspects that helped a person climb to the top – a certain degree of aggressiveness and a competitive drive – must take a backseat to a different set of skills.
Those used to selling others on their ideas must become better listeners. Common courtesy needs to replace such attributes as pushing for a project to be approved. Rewarding others becomes far more important than rewarding oneself.
It’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy. Lots of folk have suggestions on how to become a better, more respected leader. Here’s a handful to consider:
Listen More, Talk Less
One of the best ways to show someone you are interested and care about their opinions and ideas is to listen. This seems simple, of course, but people often forget this elementary skill. Others aren’t good about hiding the fact that they are simply waiting for their turn to talk.
Listening shows respect for others and also demonstrates you are willing to take the time to listen to what they have to say.
By the same token, leaders must also take the time to talk to subordinates, relaying information directly and keeping the lines of communication open.
Keep Emotions in Check
The boss who yells and screams is a cliché for a reason – almost everyone has a real-life story about a supervisor who does just that, and the common thread in each of those situations is that the boss is reviled.
A respected leader keeps negative emotions in check and knows that a sense of humor is far more important than becoming impatient or moody with employees, even if it gets immediate results.
The Open Door Policy
Another cliché, but this time for a good reason: a boss who truly has an open door policy is one who will eventually win over the respect of employees. This goes hand-in-hand with talking and listening to employees. A good leader is available to employees.
Good leaders listen to employee complaints and challenges and do their best to help find solutions. It’s also crucial to follow through on any promises made and, when praising an employee, to put it in writing.
Trust in Employees
Leaders who micromanage have missed the point. They are not in the position they have attained so they can learn every detail of every project happening companywide. Instead, they should be concentrating on the big picture and long-term strategies that can lead to company success.
In addition to listening to their ideas, one of the main ways a leader can command respect from employees is by trusting them to carry out a project without constant supervision and management. A good leader should supply the vision and direction for a project, and attempt to ensure the resources necessary to reach that goal are in place.
Go to Bat for Your Employees
Successful leaders pick their battles and know when it’s the right time to fight for their employees. Leaders who are bold enough to stand up for what is best for their employees will find themselves with loyal followers, particularly if it involves putting their employees’ welfare ahead of their own.
Remember, being a leader in terms of job title doesn’t automatically equate to being a leader in the eyes of your employees. Earning a loyal following can be the difference between mediocrity and long-term success as a leader.
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