Leadership takes so much more than just a nice sounding title. It is about bringing the best out of people and inviting them to work for a mission you set for your business. We all have good days and not-so-good days at work but our behavior should mirror the traits of a leader at all times. Keep in mind these main differences between a boss and a leader and be your best self!
Leader: Shows example
Many of those who sit in a leader’s chair just give orders and take pride in people following them blindly. However, a real leader shows an example by demonstrating values and the right attitude that others will be excited to acquire. Being a leader takes being a role model and focusing on what you can give to your employees first, rather than the other way round.
You never know if the best idea for a solution comes from the leader board or from a newbie who brings a new perspective to the team. Encourage your team members to speak up at all times and make your workplace as democratic as you can. It will pay off later and it will create a positive working environment.
Boss: Whom people fear
Leader: Whom people respect
Leading by fear is only intimidation and it won’t make talented people stick to you for too long. However, if you gain their respect and appreciate them for their work, they will multiply their efforts to help your business thrive and even if they leave your company they will spread good words about you. It’s up to you how you want to be remembered.
Boss: Uses people
Leader: Develops people
The only thing that an employee will appreciate more than a high salary is the opportunity for growth. Investing in the development of your team’s skills should be a priority regardless of your cash flow because what they bring to the table will ultimately predict your future success or failure. Make trainings and learning sessions part of the monthly routine and you will attract people who are driven and future focused, just like you.
Boss: Says I
Leader: Says we
It is a common misconception that leadership is a solitary role. You cannot achieve great results if you operate separately from your team and if you act superior then people won’t have the courage to involve you into their thinking process. When you lead a team, you are still part of that team you just give more guidance to them.
Boss: Takes credit
Leader: Gives Credit
People thrive on appreciation. You could not have achieved success without them so make sure you mention their names as often as possible in front of others and tell a few good words about them. This is the single most efficient way to engage them and to create a happy work environment.
Sometimes things go wrong and it might be the fault of a single person or an entire team tossing responsibility and pointing fingers at each other. Either way, blame is a force of destruction in any company and you need to create an environment where people don’t go stressed out if they make a mistake but rather admit it before a small problem grows big and take responsibility for it, including you. If your team cooperates well then you don’t need to be afraid of facing a dormant issue that was swept under the carpet months ago.
Leaders have the ability to influence people around them with their energy, whether positive or negative. If you look stressed out and tired it will convey a message that people cannot count on you or that you cannot even take care of yourself which is not a favorable judgement… Mindfulness exercises can help you overcome stressful situations and stay positive and powerful so that you can be on the top of your game at all times. At the very least just optimize your sleeping and eating habits and learn how to manage anxiety. Even better if you coach your employees on it too!
Remember, your personality will represent your company for outsiders and your own employees alike so your personal growth should always be a focus. If you are balanced and fulfilled in your work then nothing can really go wrong.
Successful leaders make sure that they never stop learning and that they look for ways to grow as a person every single day. There are good days in business and there are rainy days as well, and at times we feel tired of fighting and it seems like we are stuck in one place. This is why it’s important to acknowledge even our smallest achievements daily.
If we wire our brains to notice the positive events in everything we do, then we can go back to our desk the next day with renewed energy and motivation. Here are the 6 questions you should ask yourself every night before going to sleep.
How many seeds have you planted?
Leaders who live by a vision know that success doesn’t happen overnight and that the actions we take today pay off months or years later. Acknowledge every step you have taken towards your future goals and make sure that you are consistent with your routine!
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
According to the research conducted by Phillippa Lally, habits take at least 66 days to form as opposed to the common belief that people internalize a new behavior pattern in 21 days. If learning a new language seems impossible for you with your busy schedule then just take 10 minutes each day to practice with an app and your efforts will accumulate over time. It is more efficient to spend a fraction of an hour day by day with learning a new skill or preparing for our long-term business goals than trying to change the world before sunset.
How many dots have you put down today?
Small, consistent steps are important but we also need to pay attention to closing the loop. When we juggle between a myriad of projects and commitments we often start working on 5 different ideas and then finish none of them. Even if it’s just writing a thank you email you have been pushing aside or taking up something you left off months ago, these efforts will ensure that you don’t disperse your energy and you are aware of your limits. Once you complete something, celebrate and appreciate these achievements at the end of the day.
What makes you grateful?
Expressing gratitude is one of the most common daily habits of successful entrepreneurs. It helps them be more present and find happiness every single day instead of always chasing the next thing and waiting for an event in the distant future. You can write these positive moments in a journal or visualize them while meditating. Make a (mental) list of everything from a delicious lunch you had with a coworker to a compliment you received from on a stranger on the way home. Sometimes, the smallest things can be the most important ones as well.
How did you give back to the world today?
Asking yourself this question daily can draw your attention to the opportunities where you can help people around you. You don’t have to donate or volunteer every single day, maybe all it takes is just opening the door for someone or having a chat with your team member who seems troubled. Giving back will help you find a connection with people and it does make the world a better place.
What was my greatest lesson today?
Making mistakes is a necessary part of your personal development but only if you learn from them. Remember all the situations you wanted to act differently and make sure you only make a mistake once. Listen to people who give you advice, it’s less painful to learn from other people’s failure if you have the chance to learn from them.
How can I make the best out of tomorrow?
Planning every hour of your upcoming day in and outside of the office and keeping your top 3 goals for the day in mind can increase your productivity significantly. If you write down your focus for the next day it will be easier to let go of your worries and have a good night’s sleep. While your body rests, your subconscious mind will prepare you for your upcoming challenges so by the time you wake up in the morning, you will be determined and ready for a new start!
One of the key ingredients of your leadership quotient is the ability to solve conflicts efficiently and to make sure that you are on the same page with the people you work with. Challenging each other’s views is beneficial for both parties as it provides an opportunity to learn but only if it doesn’t bring negative emotions into the discussion.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind for the next time you have an argument with someone.
Blaming and pointing the finger at someone never leads to a positive outcome and it can seriously harm your reputation in a professional environment. Aim to ask challenging questions instead of emphasizing the person’s mistakes on the opposite side of the table. Take time to listen and understand their opinion before you try to convince them! Instead of saying The product was delivered with a huge delay because of your negligent behavior you might ask We didn’t meet our deadlines. What do you think could have been done better?
Notice the difference between the two sentences: after the first statement your coworker might get defensive immediately and focus on finding an excuse or fire back at you with something you got wrong. To the contrary, asking an open-ended question gives room for developing better processes. Your colleague might even apologize and come up with ways that could improve the cooperation between the two of you.
However, when you face criticism you need to keep in mind that it is not a judgement about who you are, but something you have done and consequently it is just an issue that needs fixing. Don’t let it define you! Everyone makes mistakes and the easier you face your failures the more you grow as a person and a leader.
Emotional Intelligence is key
We are all emotional human beings and our feelings often stand in the way when we try to solve a conflict appropriately. The higher the level of stress in our environment and the more we feel pressed with time the harder it is to remain sane in these situations. Especially when we stand in the line of fire surrounded by people with critical point of views, which create a situation that requires a quick response. It is challenging to remain calm in these instances and focus on the solution rather than a counter argument.
Take a deep breath and try not to take things personally! Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand why they make the points they make and what frustrates them. Instead of focusing only on winning, think about how you could come to a conclusion which is best for the company and suitable for everyone. You can allow yourself to be vulnerable once in a while: It takes bravery, but it often leads to resolving the tension between team members so that you can discuss everything in an assertive way.
When there is a lot at stake
There will be times when you negotiate with people in a win or lose situation and an understanding attitude won’t be good enough to reach your goals. Gather all information possible prior to the meeting –you can never be over-prepared! Ask help from a colleague if needed and practice the situation just like you would do a mock trial before heading to the courtroom.
Try not to use the word but in your arguments! Substitute it with yes, however or simply the word and so that your opposition won’t feel the need to fire back at you and prove the validity of his words. Ask surprising questions if you need to win some extra time and notice when people try to divert the conversation and stay away from a certain subject because that’s the very thing they are trying to hide.
No matter if you are facing a competitor or someone from your team, always remind yourself of the possible motives one could have and learn to read between the lines. Be assertive and don’t jump into arguments when you’re in a negative mood! Staying mindful about your emotions is a sure way towards gaining respect as a leader.