Three Ways to Be a Better Leader, Starting Now

Joseph Stubblebine
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A top priority for many organizations is to identify and develop leaders. Demonstrating strong leadership skills gets you noticed, creates opportunity, and enhances your chances for promotion. You don't have to attend lengthy management seminars, although continuing education can help you develop important skills. In the short term, here are three ways to improve leadership skills right now.

Leadership isn't just about providing instructions and standing over someone to ensure work is completed. Good leaders understand the power of relationships, and in a relationship, it's not all about you. Managers sometimes approach situations wondering what they can get out of people; you might wonder how you can get the most production, the highest quality, or the least complaints out of your staff. Relationship managers instead wonder how they can provide staff with the right tools and work environment so that production, quality, and better morale follows naturally. As a leader, step outside of your vantage point to really understand how to make things work for everyone.

You don't have to love your job to be a good leader, but the Lead on Purpose blog points out that good leadership involves showing a little love at work. L.O.V.E. stands for listen, observe, value, and experience. Listen to the problems—both personal and professional—that your staff experiences. Observe your staff in action so you know when to thank someone for a good job and can identify and address weak points in a process. Value the time, feelings, and commitment of other people. Sure, you're busy, but so is everyone else. Those in leadership sometimes require that employees work overtime hours or put extra effort in on a project; make sure you show gratitude and compensate people accordingly. Finally, experience the work you ask others to do. Leaders who are willing or able to do the work they task others with are generally more respected and trusted by staff members.

Leaders who can convey information in narrative format may be able to communicate better with a variety of people. Robert McAfee Brown said that telling stories is the most powerful way to express ideas. A story tells people where an idea came from, what the purpose of the idea is, and how the idea will become a practical process. Good leaders don't dictate a new process—they tell the story of the new process so that employees can become excited and engaged. Similarly, listening to personal stories and sharing some of your own experiences is a great way to get to know employees on a personal level, increasing your ability to develop a positive leadership presence.

You can improve leadership skills by thinking about others, telling stories, and acting on the L.O.V.E. tenants. Strong leaders listen, observe, and value others, and they are always willing to share experiences and lessons with their team members.

(Photo courtesy of cooldesign /


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