How To Become A Better Leader: Workplace Do’s and Don’ts

What Is Leadership In The Workplace

The true definition of a good leader is highly subjective. There is no specific path that a high-level leader must follow in order to excel at what they do. Although the way they do it can be up to the individual, a truly great leader is able to get the most out of the people that follow them.

A great leader is able to inspire their followers to put their all into their work. They encourage people to not only perform their best but exceed their goals and continue to push for more.

This applies to all areas, including the workplace. Good leadership qualities involve being able to motivate and encourage your employees to work efficiently and go beyond what they are expected to do. When it comes down to it, a good leader will have a net positive impact in the workplace as a whole, while a bad leader will cause performance to drop.

This is being put in its simplest terms; however, the principles remain true. Leadership in the workplace can make bad employees adequate and good employees great. The absence of leadership will result in employees under performing and failing to reach their potential for both themselves and their employer.

What Makes A Good Leader?

A person that displays good leadership skills is able to manage people effectively. They do this in different ways. There are many different approaches to managing people and at the same time, different people require different types of leadership if you want to get the most out of them. A truly great leader is able to recognize these individual differences and tailor their approach to suit their personality and what they respond to best.

A great leader must have a heightened level of self-awareness. They must be able to understand the approach that they’re taking and how the recipient of that approach is going to react to it. If someone is not responding well to the leadership around them, a good leader should be able to pick up on that and adjust their approach accordingly.

What Makes A Bad Leader?

A bad leader fails to do this. They may have a style that works for most of the people they oversee, however, the difference between a good leader and a bad leader is that the bad leader will not be able to recognize and adjust their approach to those that are not responding well to their broad tactics.

Stubborn people often have this problem. If an employee is not responding well to a certain leadership approach, a stubborn leader is more likely to blame it on them as opposed to recognizing that it is their responsibility to find a way to improve the outcome. Every great leader must have the ability to admit that they are wrong at times and change their approach to correct it.

Although the ability to recognize where change is needed requires a lot of experience and intuition, it is something that can be improved and corrected over time. As long as management is not actively avoiding, ignoring, or being unavailable, is possible to improve on bad leadership.

Do — Recognize where you are displaying bad leadership qualities and focus on correcting those.

What Makes An Absent Leader?

An absent leader not only fails to make a change, they aren’t present enough to give themselves a chance to recognize it. This takes away any opportunity for improvement. It dilutes the impact that a leader can have on their team and it drastically lowers the potential that their team has.

Don’t — Be an absent leader. If you do not give your employees individualized attention, there is no way you will be able to provide the leadership that is needed to maximize the output for the company.

Do — Increase the attention that you are giving to your team and those individuals. The day you stop being an absent leader is the day you will give yourself a chance to improve your leadership abilities.

The Path Becoming A Good Leader

The path to improving your leadership is simple:

If You Are An Absent Leader

Do — Increase the time that you spend with your team.

Do — Make sure that the individuals within the team are able to interact with you on a one-on-one basis freely.

If You Are A Bad Leader

Do — Try to identify areas that your leadership is not resulting in the effect that you intended it to.

Do — Take action to alter your approach until a positive change from your team is visible.

If You Are A Good Leader

Don’t — Assume that you can use the same approach indefinitely. Situations, environments and team members will always change. What works now may not work in the future. Always look for ways that you can improve your leadership abilities so that you can continue to get the most out of your team.

Understanding Leadership From The Employee Perspective

Now that we know the difference between an absent leader, a bad leader, and a good leader, we can talk about this experience from the other side of things.

From The Employee Perspective

The first step in doing this is to understand how an employee will experience leadership. A leader should provide them with the support they need to help them get the most out of their work. The quality of the work that they produce is a direct reflection of the support that they are provided with.

Support for the employee comes in two forms:

Tangible Support

Tangible support involves tools, materials, and training that the management provides for them. In order for an employee to succeed, they must have the correct amount of resources, direction, and knowledge for the task at hand. If they do not possess what is needed, they will be unable to deliver the work that they are capable of doing.

Do — Make sure that your employees have all the tools and the resources that they need. The access that they have on these tangible factors will directly reflect on the quality of the finished product.

Intangible Support

Intangible support is more emotionally based. This includes respect, trust, engagement, and empowerment. If you want employees to put their all into a project, they must feel that it is important to them.

Some companies take a systematic approach to the way that they distribute the work. This helps employees focus on what they specialize in, however, it takes away all of the intangible value for the employee. They don’t have any incentive to go above and beyond if they have no emotional attachment to the task or project.

Do — Make sure that team members are invested in a project and the outcome of it. Expose them to more aspects of the project and consider their input in other areas of it.

Identifying If You Are A Good Or Bad Leader

Consistency

Are you consistent with your approaches? Define what you should expect in the workplace so employees know what to expect. A volatile leader will discourage assertiveness and confidence.

Effectiveness

Are your ways of dealing with your team and the individuals in it working? Are you accomplishing the goals that you have set for your team or for yourself? If not, look for ways that you can improve upon them.

Fairness

Are you treating everyone equally?

There are other factors involved here. Factors like seniority, skill set and position should also have weight in how employees and their opinions are treated. Employees that are comparable within these factors should be treated equally.

Mutual Respect

Does your team respect you as a leader? Do you show the people you work with the same respect? Often, respect is a two-way street. If you don’t show it, you can’t expect to be respected in return.

Listening To Input

Listening is a good way to show that an employee is valued within the company. It’s not enough to simply listen to their ideas; you should also show them that their input has the potential to actually be implemented.

Involving Everyone In The Process

Don’t shut people out. A company is a team and everyone should have a role in it. If they don’t believe they are an important part of the process, they will lose the incentive to put their best into it.

Solving Conflict

Conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. A good leader should be able to diffuse any conflicts that arise and minimize the fallout from it. You should be focused on managing difficult employees to make sure the conflict is contained so that the workplace remains a professional environment.

Bad Leadership Qualities

Poor leadership abilities are most apparent when a company or a leader tries to direct their employees by adding rules, regulations, and force. Companies often try to use goals and targets, minimum requirements, policies and rules in place of better leadership.

You will often see this approach in large companies where they are unable to give their employees individualized attention. The larger these companies become, the more difficult it is to maintain a high level of leadership.

Do — Reduce regulations and policies.

A more effective way to approach this type of problem is to reduce the amount of regulations and policies that are being imposed on employees. This will improve intangible factors and give them a reason to care more about what they are working on. It increases the trust they will have in the company.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to become a better leader in the workplace is critical to the overall success and effectiveness that the team as a whole produces. A good leader is able to dedicate the time and attention to their team, identify what approach will be the most effective on both a wide scale and an individual one, and adapt to change. Good leadership is the most effective way to improve performance and you can improve your abilities by following this advice above.