3 Ways You Can Improve Your Leadership Abilities

“Creative leaders must be more than big personalities if they hope to lead successful organizations. They must be deeply in tune with human behavior, and, most critically, understand who they are and what motivates them to success and what precipitates their failures.”

Doug Guthrie, Forbes.com

You can use all the buzzwords and industry jargon you want – but if you’re not ready to make real change yourself, you’ll never lead change in your organization. Try the tips below to enhance your leadership abilities – and to create an atmosphere of unity in your organization.

I. The Power of the Apology

In an article aptly titled “Courageous Leaders Don’t Make Excuses…They Apologize”, Forbes.com contributor Erika Andersen explains the tremendous impact an apology can have.

Think about it – who do you have the most respect for? The person who admits she was wrong, or the person who continually makes excuses, refusing to fully admit any fault?

Admitting you were wrong or at fault is never easy – it takes a lot of courage. Courage is part of the foundation of successful leadership, so why is it so hard to simply utter an apology? In short – it just is – apologizing can make you feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Yet, Andersen asserts, “Followers look to see whether a leader is courageous before they’ll fully accept that person’s leadership. If they see courage (and taking full responsibility for actions and admitting and apologizing for mistakes are two of the five key indicators of courage), it feels safe to ‘sign up.’”

Leadership tip: Before you make a big apology, consider writing down what you’ll say so you’re prepared. Hint – don’t tarnish an otherwise sincere apology by trying to slip in an excuse. Just apologize.

Do: I’m sorry we missed the deadline.

Don’t: I’m sorry we missed the deadline, but we’ve been swamped with a slew of unexpected work requests lately.

II. The Missing Link to Progress: Sincerity

Empathy and trust, explains author Scott Pickard, are two concepts at the very foundation of all successful relationships. “If either is missing, the relationship either fails to progress, or ends completely,” he writes.

If there is a key to expressing empathy effectively, it’s sincerity. When you fail to convince someone that you are coming from a place of authenticity, you’ll never establish the healthy level of trust critical to a supportive culture.

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to encourage a safe environment where others can feel free to discuss topics (yes, even the troublesome ones) without undue threat of judgement or harsh criticism.

Leadership tip: Build a culture of trust and support by actively engaging with others. Remember the little details someone shared with you to show you’re sincere.

Do: Hi, Jane. How’s your daughter doing in lacrosse?

Don’t: Hi, Jane. What’s happening?

III. Have Want To: The Ideal EnvironmentID-100341024

One organization tops the list of “great places to work” year after year. Another struggles to retain its employees for any length of time. Is it about pay? In short, no.

Think about when you feel most motivated – when you have to do something, or when you actually want to do it? I thought so.

Organizations with a “have to” work environment usually have employees who complete the bare minimum and little more. In a “want to” work environment, in contrast, employees are engaged and actually appreciative of the opportunities they have to do more than what’s required.

Dale Carnegie Training looked at the rational and emotional factors that impact engagement in an organization. They found that “The research identified senior leadership practices and behaviors as a critical area of focus. From the quality of the people they hire, the resources and training they give them, the level of communication with employees, to the way employees are compensated, the climate of the working environment is a reflection of senior management.”

Leadership tip: No matter what size your organization is, encourage employees to voice their ideas and opinions through open, honest communication.

Do: We’d love to hear what ideas you have to tackle this issue.

Don’t: Well, this is the way it’s always been done…

As you go forward with your work day, think about this statement by Lao Tzu: “To lead people, walk behind them.”

Leaders, do you want a fresh dose of motivation to inspire and challenge you every week? Sign up here to access my Weekly Bold Move. Best of all, it’s completely free!


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Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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