The process of becoming an effective leader never stops! With so many different situations and so many different people, we only ever hope to become better through experience and learning. Some people want to wait until they are perfect at something before they try doing it. One thing that sets successful and effective leaders apart is that they are prepared to do something even though they don’t fully know what they are doing and the fact that it may not work first time.
If you are interested in becoming an effective leader here are three top tips for improving your leadership style:
As trainers we learned long ago that we learn from every single training, presentation or coaching session that we deliver. Just by taking the time to listen to people we can learn so much. Some managers we have come across appear to have closed minds. By this we mean that they think that they always have the answers and that their answer is always right! In other words they are not prepared to listen first and consider another point of view. If you listen it doesn’t mean that you have to agree. Try on the idea first and see whether it could work. Making the final decision is often the role of the leader only once they have considered the alternatives.
2. Be Curious
One of our trainers was talking about a teacher he had at school who taught Design and Technology (in those days it was a posh word for woodwork and metalwork classes!). This teacher said, ‘Always have a sense of curiosity about the world around you. When you see a light switch always be curious about how it works. How does it connect the electricity to the light bulb?’
True leaders are curious about how things work. They put themselves in the minds of other people: customers, colleagues, employees and competitors. They take the time to ask themselves, ‘What is going on?’, ‘What do people want?’, ‘What do they need?’, ‘Why are they doing that?’ Everybody can keep themselves busy but as a leader are your spending time on the most important things? In order words are you leading your people and your business in the right direction?
3. Learn From Your Mistakes
We’ve already said earlier on that the best leaders are prepared to do something even though they not fully understand how to do it. What they are good at is to learn from things that don’t work out exactly as planned. They can still keep ahead of the competition because they acted quickly and maybe were the first to market. They make improvements to their first attempt and sell the new better version as the improved article. If they have received customer feedback of the first version they tell everybody, ‘We’ve listened to your feedback and this is how we have improved it’. Customers love to hear that we have listened to them (see point one above!) AND that you’ve done something about it too.
Entrepreneurs around the world who have become successful have a history of failures behind them. The difference between them and people who didn’t make it is the way they responded to the failure – they learned from it and tried again.
The good news is that we all have the ability as human beings to learn and evolve. Whatever your learning style, you can do it. Whether it’s reading books and articles, watching videos on the internet, listening to audio books and clips or just diving in and seeing what happens, just give it go! If your preferred learning style is to sit with other people discuss and reflect upon different leadership styles, then contact us to see how we can become your preferred learning partner. We promise you that we will have fun learning together!
Head of Training
Originally published: 13 February, 2013