Good vs. Great: 3 Tips for Becoming a Better Leader

"I'm already a good leader."

But wouldn't you like to be a great leader?

Today's employee shortage and retention woes have reached crisis levels. Many employees cite dissatisfaction with leadership as a critical factor for resigning a position or their ongoing consideration of leaving.

Winning leadership qualities have never mattered more.

It's critically important that those in leadership positions consistently be the most effective leaders they can be. Even the best leaders can expand their skills, improve rapport with those they lead, develop more effective communication patterns, and advance paths toward future goals.

You want to be a great leader, right? Of course, you do! So, how many of these "great leader qualities" can you honestly claim to have "mastered" right now? How many are a work in progress? And those that are left? Well, the first step to becoming a better leader is an honest evaluation. So, here goes.

Great leaders—

  • know their strengths and weaknesses
  • prioritize skillset development
  • pursue excellence in themselves and others
  • listen as much, if not more, than they talk
  • are present, on the scene, in the mix
  • practice an "open door" policy that welcomes and encourages the sharing of ideas as well as concerns
  • embrace strategic thinking
  • welcome and prioritize innovation
  • refuse to be stuck in the past while still being mindful of lessons learned from the past
  • nurture members of the team toward personal growth
  • consistently build up individuals, encouraging them to reach their potential
  • are tuned in to the leadership qualities in others and guide their development
  • recognize passion and tap into it to inspire commitment
  • applaud the team and give credit where credit is due
  • speak highly of team members in front of others
  • know when and how to have fun

Both good and great leaders can strive to do and be better. Improvement in these three key areas will elevate any leader's stock.

Communicate realistic and clear expectations. Little frustrates employees more than a reprimand for something their leader failed to communicate clearly. Don't leave things to unspoken assumptions or "common sense" that requires a detailed explanation, nor fail to meet an unrealistic expectation. Ensure shared goals aren't ambiguous or missing the "how" component. Morale will plummet if leadership does not recognize these troubling scenarios and find a resolution.

Learn how to handle failure. Failure happens to everyone. Even the most successful among us have experienced failure. It's how we manage it that matters, and that's especially true of leaders. Exploding anger or finger pointing will alienate the team and likely create division. Instead, leaders must accept any responsibility due to them and identify a path forward with input from the team. Yes, accountability is necessary, but often it's best coupled with a measure of grace.

Learn how to coach your people. It's incredible the lengths people will go to and the heights they will reach when they feel supported, encouraged, and valued. That unique combination of knowing someone is "in your corner" who values your unique perspective and feedback is an incredible motivator. Strive to be that "coaching" type of person for those under you. You will both be the better for it.

Don't settle for being a good leader when being a great leader is within your grasp.

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