Effective Leader

Relax. This isn’t going to be another preachy, utopian article about superhuman leaders and their unattainable effectiveness. It’s about taking a few simple steps, starting today, toward being a more effective leader by improving our leadership skills.

Buying in and adopting these straightforward actions will have immediate results.

Of course, there are some steps that are easier than others, but all it takes is a little effort, awareness, and introspection. Oh, and an open mind and a willingness to make a few changes are key. We’re not talking about leaping tall buildings here, just baby steps. Let’s call it making a few course corrections, now that we know what we need to do.

Incremental change is the name of the game. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s very much like deciding to be healthier by making an effort to start eating right, exercising, and finding your ideal weight. You have good days and you have days where you slip back into old habits.

The trick is to forget the times when you backslide and start each day getting back on track. It would be nice if we could just wave a magic wand and be new and improved.

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Reality is, well – reality. We will slip. We will have to make adjustments. That’s natural. Making steady progress is what we’re after. Time is going by anyway, so why not start making a difference today?

This is all about you personally. Take an honest look at yourself. This is not about what other people (spouse, parent, boss, employees, kids, etc.) can do to make things easier on you.  It’s time for some good old introspection. So the question is, “What can I do to be the most effective leader I can be?

Be Open to Change

Change is the key. We have to start here. Without some behavioral changes, everything stays the same, which means we keep doing the same stuff over and over and over.

Since we want better results, meaning less stress, more fun, and some well-deserved recognition, we’ll have to do things slightly different. If it was easy, we would already be doing it so let’s decide right now that we are open to change.

Know Yourself

How do we show up in the morning – sad, mad, or just glad to be here? Let’s be honest. Are you moody? Are people walking on eggshells around you? Look at yourself from the perspective of the people around you.

Make it a point to recognize how you come across to others on an hour-by-hour basis. This is called emotional intelligence. You want to be emotionally intelligent, right? Tune in to your behavior; it’s very interesting and you’ll learn a lot about yourself. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get results.

Have a Sense of Humor

Suggestion: don’t take yourself too seriously. A big percentage of what goes on each day can be viewed in a humorous light. It sure beats having ulcers and people like to be around people with a sense of humor. I know I don’t like to be around sarcastic people that always seem angry about something.  No one else does either.

Know Your Strengths

Here’s the caveat – An overused strength becomes a weakness. Example: be confident, but not overconfident. Too much confidence comes across as cocky and arrogant. Mix in some genuine humility and you will become confident and poised.

Related:  When Leadership Strengths become Weaknesses - Part 2

Similarly, it’s great to be the negotiator that always gets the lowest prices and terms, but quality, dependability, or some other operational problems occasionally come up. The correct use of any strength is balancing. Look at your results compared to desired results. Make adjustments to get your preferred results.

Be the Example

What behaviors do you want from people? Make a list. Are you setting an example of those behaviors through the way you conduct yourself and interact with others? It is infinitely easier to inspire teamwork, trust, and performance when the example of appropriate behavior is set by the leader.

The “do as I say, not as I do” strategy is strategy and just doesn’t work! So, however you wish others to act, so should you. Follow your list and others will too.

Let Others “In On” Things

Do you like knowing what is going on in your workplace, family, etc.? Do you like to have input in decisions that affect you? Sorry about the rhetorical questions, but they illustrate the point – people like to be in on things. People like to be a part of what goes on around them.

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You can quickly get major results if you include others in decisions that affect them. You’ll get great ideas, learn things you didn’t know, and make better decisions, plus the added bonus of buy-in and enhanced teamwork. Simple, but powerful!

Expect the Best

Be positive, stay positive, and give others the benefit of the doubt – always expect the best until proven wrong. You’ll be amazed at the positive behavior changes from others when you expect the best. People won’t be afraid to tell the truth. They will feel comfortable in telling you bad news and admitting mistakes.

This is extremely important with everyone, but even more so where kids are concerned. They will prove you right, whichever you expect, the best or the worst.

This game plan is about things each of us can do today to make life easier and less stressful. You don’t have to change who you are or exercise 3 hours a day and only eat yogurt. Just take an honest, introspective look and make a few, simple adjustments.

Better yet, prioritize which areas you want to work on and decide how and what changes you’ll make in each area. The final piece is to keep score on your progress each day. Nothing fancy. just a simple letter grade or “Did I get better today?”  Yes or no.

How Can You Become a More Effective Leader?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Ron Whitaker
Ron is an accomplished entrepreneur involved in developing multiple businesses from the ground up. He is the co-founder of About Leaders, an author, and a start up consultant and investor. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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