All of us in management positions should constantly be looking for ways to be a better leader. In this article, my third post in a series of lists of short tips, I share 23 ideas on how I feel you (and I can improve. After my last two related posts, being 39 hints when looking for web industry work and 18 ways to being a better employee, I thought it was only fair I turned my eyes towards employers or managers.
Here’s some ideas and tips for those of you who either manage or employ staff. Treat it as one leader’s advice to another on how to be a better leader.
- Only ever hire someone who you think can do the job, and the job will last. It’s a promise to employ them, and shouldn’t be done lightly.
- Ask only that of your employees what you would do yourself. For example, never ask your staff to empty a bin or clean a toilet, if you wouldn’t do that yourself. There’s no such thing as tasks below a persons role.
- Teach and encourage your staff to pursue excellence in everything they do.
- Never ask your staff to work overtime or weekends, or all night unless you are happy to do the same.
- Encourage your staff to think for themselves – not just take commands.
- To be a better leader, always encourage your team to question your directions, if they feel they have something valuable to contribute.
- Reward great outcomes – it doesn’t even need to be financial – a big thanks once in a while doesn’t hurt.
- Show true leadership and strength in your beliefs.
- Great leaders know they aren’t know it alls. You need to realise that you are still learning yourself, and that you aren’t perfect.
- To be a better leader, you need to take care of yourself too. Make it a habit to exercise regularly and eat healthy. Cut down on alcohol and give up smoking.
- Do you best to ensure that you stamp out office politics, and never get involved. Don’t allow people around you to talk behind their backs.
- Don’t criticise people, instead analyse and discuss their behaviours with them.
- Show you believe in your staff. Don’t just say it.
- Always ensure that you make your employees feel a true sense of ownership in your organisation.
- Encourage your people to compete with themselves, not each other.
- Conduct regular performance reviews with real discussion, not just box ticking.
- Don’t get drunk at business functions. It reflects badly on you. You don’t have to be sober to be a better leader, but don’t be an alcoholic either.
- Never berate an employee in front of another staff member or colleague. Take them aside, and explain your expectations and how they didn’t meet them in private. There’s no need in making it public.
- Complaining about staff members to other staff members will make the listeners wonder what you say about them.
- To be a better leader, you need to ensure that you regularly take time for yourself to unwind and relax. That is, take time off for holidays or long weekends. A tired, grumpy boss helps no-one.
- Understand what roles your employees do.
- Constantly look at ways of improving your own management technique.
- As the great parenting adage goes, be firm but fair.
I’m always looking at different methods and tips so I can be a better leader. I hope a few of the above suggestions resonate well with you, and can help you consider your leadership style.
(Originally published July 2006. Last updated in December 2021).