If you want your team and business to succeed, you’ll need to be more than a good task manager. You’ll need to be a good leader. The best leaders know how to manage both the operational and human aspects of a business. They have the know-how to get the job done—but always respect employees’ unique qualities. Often, leaders are comfortable with the operational aspects of their roles. However, some need coaching on the human elements. By following four core practices, you can develop your leadership skills—and help your business thrive.
Avoid Micromanaging Your Employees
Good leaders recognize that they can’t do everything themselves. Instead, they distribute decision-making and tasks throughout the organization. As a recent article in the Harvard Business Review explains, the best leaders empower employees to self-organize. That means leaders provide clear direction on the work but give employees freedom. Employees have the power to decide when and how to complete tasks.
Giving up control can be hard for some leaders at first, but it is a necessary step for growth. Studies have proven that empowered teams are far more productive and empowered team members show higher levels of commitment to the organization. By contrast, micromanaging employees can decrease productivity and morale. How can you know if you’re micromanaging? You may find yourself doling out tasks one at a time. Or you may require approval for every employee’s decision. To improve, you need to take a step back and try not to check in on day-to-day work too often.
Share a Healthy Mix of Positive and Negative Feedback
As a leader, you have to give direction—and may need to step in when tasks go off course. Even so, you should avoid focusing only on negative and corrective feedback. In fact, a recent study found that top-performing teams share more praise than criticism. That means you should seek out opportunities to praise employees. Encourage employees to praise each other as well.
Another important study underscored the importance of offering praise in the workplace. Researchers found that praise helps employees focus on images of their “best selves.” Praise helps them gain confidence and complete tasks more efficiently. And that boosts overall team productivity.
Care About Employees’ Career Development
Once you move into a leadership role, you take on responsibility for others’ professional growth. You need to care about the progress of your team as a whole. And that means caring about each individual. No two employees are alike. You should spend time getting to know each person on your team. Find out all you can about their motivators and future goals.
Equipped with this information, you can help them pursue training and promotion opportunities to advance their careers. Taking an interest in your employees’ aspirations can help them envision a future with your business. This increases retention—and supports succession planning. You can cultivate next-generation leaders and trust that your business will be in capable hands in the years ahead.
Build a Diverse and Inclusive Team
Diversity and inclusion aren’t mere buzzwords. Instead, they’re practices that give every business clear advantages. Studies have shown that diverse organizations are more productive and innovative. Focusing on diversity helps broaden your talent pool and draw in top candidates. Start by educating yourself about individuals from different backgrounds. You also may need to seek out new recruiting sources. Once you have a diverse mix of employees, show sensitivity to everyone’s unique perspectives and concerns. Being a good listener is key.
Make praise and positive feedback part of your culture. And help employees look beyond the daily task list and create a vision of their future careers. Bring in individuals from diverse backgrounds and welcome their unique insights. If you embrace these core concepts, you’ll grow into an effective leader. And you’ll be able to guide your organization to new levels of excellence.