5 Ways to Become a Better Leader

5 Ways to Become a Better Leader

Good leaders are important, but great leaders can significantly impact the success of their teams and organizations. Great leaders can connect with their teams through open communication, regular feedback, and ongoing training and development. Employees who work for great leaders are often happier, more productive, and more engaged with their organization. So how does one become a great leader? Continue reading to learn about five ways to help you become a "Great Leader."


1. Foster open communication.

Effective leaders have one thing in common: they have an open line of communication with their team members. Honest and transparent communication from leaders will serve as examples for your team members. Your employees will ultimately become a reflection of you, so you must be straightforward with them. As a leader, you should consistently act honestly and ethically so that your team will follow your lead.  

Great leaders also know that open communications will entail tweaking your communication style to suit different team members. We all communicate slightly differently and prefer different styles and types. Great leaders know how to accommodate and make changes to suit their employees. In doing so, you must remain genuine, not fake. Employees will see through fake communications and insincere attitudes. There is not necessarily a right or a wrong way; it will take practice to learn and understand what works best for each of your team members.


2. Build relationships with your team members. 

Effective leaders work with people who trust them. To trust someone or have someone trust you completely, you must know and understand them. This means building a relationship with your team members. You must find a way to connect with each team member professionally and personally. Knowing what your employees value is important and helps you understand how they will react in specific situations. Learning about what they enjoy, their hobbies, and their interests are also important. In doing so, you get to understand your employees on a deeper level and can understand their strengths. This knowledge is valuable to you as their supervisor and allows you to recognize an employee's strengths and weaknesses and utilize them as needed. Great leaders can pinpoint these traits and qualities and give their employees autonomy. Building good relationships with all your team members is imperative for personal and professional growth.


3. Encourage growth and development.

 A great leader is genuinely invested in seeing team members' growth and development. You must become their cheerleader. When your employees grow, your entire team and organization will grow. As a rule, employees want to expand their knowledge and strengthen their capabilities. 

Generation Z is also entering the workforce, and we know they want continuous learning opportunities. In today's world, to retain a Gen Z employee, it will be essential that you—as a leader—provide them with professional development opportunities. While the organization might financially invest in your employees, you must champion continued growth and development. 

You have a variety of options to provide these opportunities. It could be joining a local chapter or trade association. Training programs exist now in person and virtually. Understand what your employees need and strive to provide them with the appropriate learning and development opportunities.  


4. Lead your employees by example.

 Great leaders must show their employees what is required vs. dictating orders. Leaders must be willing to "Walk-the-Talk" and role model the behaviors they want their teams to exhibit. It can be challenging to teach others without getting frustrated; therefore, keeping a positive attitude as you lead and guide your employees is important. Spend more time focusing on solutions instead of problems. If you discover something isn't working, take time to look at all the issues and brainstorm how to solve the problem. People can only grow with learning. As a leader and role model to your team, you want to encourage your employees through leading and teaching positively. Doing so sets the framework for promoting new leaders within the organization.  


5. Set clear expectations for employees.

While we just spoke about guiding and teaching employees, let's remember how important it is to set clear, precise goals and expectations. This helps your employees understand what is expected of them and the result they are working towards. In many cases, employees work individually, and their expectations differ from the next employee. 

Leaders will want to emphasize the "big picture" to all team members and the individual since they contribute to that vision. Great leaders work with teams that understand what is expected of them and how that work supports the organization's goals and leads to success. 
Becoming a great leader takes time. It does not happen overnight. It will take practice - and you may even need to revise your leadership strategies completely. Asking your employees for feedback is another great way to understand where you can make positive changes. While you may think something you are doing is the right way, getting feedback from your team might lead you to realize a more efficient way. Some people are naturally born leaders, and others are not. But with hard work, dedication, and strategic planning, you can learn to become a "Great Leader."


AEU LEAD is a division of The American Underwriters, Inc. dedicated to the leadership development needs of mid and front-line managers. 

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About the Author

As Director of AEU LEAD, Joe White focuses on helping members transform operational goals into actionable plans through a structured change management process. Prior to joining AEU, Joe was a senior consultant for E.I. DuPont’s consulting division, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS). He joined DSS in 2011 to develop the next generation of safety practices using extensive research in behavioral sciences he’s compiled over a period of nearly two decades. His efforts resulted in the development of The Risk Factor, which is now the flagship instructor-led offering for the consulting division. Combined, Joe has 26 years of operational safety experience, the majority of which was with DuPont. Joe has been published in Occupational Health & Safety Magazine for his prominent work in safety relative to behavioral and neurosciences and is an event speaker at many leading industry conferences including National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expos, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA). Joe is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a B.S., in Safety and Risk Administration.

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