How To Be A Better Leader: Improve Your Listening Skills

Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say
– Andy Stanley

It is typical for people to associate effective communication traits with a competent leader. We expect the person who heads a team to be skilled in conveying ideas through talking or writing. This is perfectly understandable because leaders frequently share information and ideas. Their words, whether spoken or written, can form a foundation that can move a team upward or build a sharp axe that can crush a team’s spirit. Indeed, everyone knows that being articulate with words is an invaluable trait for thriving leaders.

Still, aside from the ability to speak and write well, there is one more important characteristic in communication that all leaders should have. This is the ability to listen well. Being a good listener is a crucial trait because a team where the leader is the only one who keeps on talking is not likely to succeed. Team collaboration is best when everybody in the team feels free to share inputs because they know that their concerns do not fall on deaf ears. So how can a leader hone their listening skills? The following pointers may be helpful.

Avoid distractions.

Even great speakers get bothered by audience members who do not seem to pay attention while they are giving their speech. Aside from being rude, it can also diminish a speaker’s confidence. For this reason, it is very important for leaders to learn how to listen with great attention to anyone they are talking to. To do this, they may have to eliminate possible distractions that can prevent them from focusing on the moment. They may need to turn off phone and email notifications to listen closely to what the other person is saying. A leader who does this will make someone feel respected and valued, and can even motivate them to work more efficiently.

Be genuinely interested.

You can listen with great focus but if you are not genuinely interested about what the other person is saying, the words can quickly fade into thin air. For words to stick in your mind you have to be interested in other people’s thoughts and ideas. This is something that is hard to fake. Feigning interest is not something you can do and hide from for long. On the contrary, good leaders take time to listen to others because they are excited to discover someone’s strength, potential and even weaknesses. For this reason, leaders who desires growth for the whole team aim for real connection and are are eager to get to know everyone on the team.

Pay attention to body language.

Not everyone can express their thoughts well and great leaders know this. To really understand or hear what the other person is trying to say, leaders sometimes need to read between the lines. They know how to notice subtle signs that show if a person is uncomfortable or scared. A bit of sensitivity can go a long way because it will help the leader show the appropriate response that a person needs in a particular situation. For example, a leader who noticed that a person is shy may respond with words that will encourage someone to open up. If a person seems uncomfortable, the leader may give the person more time to organize his or her thoughts.

Do not judge.

A great team is a team where everyone contributes to the best of their ability and does not feel any apprehension in sharing their feedback. To achieve this ideal status, you have to create an environment where everyone is encouraged to speak up. You can do this by controlling your reaction whenever someone decides to give a piece of his or her mind. You have to learn how to listen without letting your emotions get the better off you. You do not make hasty judgments or display uncontrolled anger. Instead you listen patiently until someone is done talking and assess your reactions objectively.

Efficient communication skills can take you places and can help you achieve your goals. But as you freely express your thoughts, remember to pay close attention to what the others are saying, too. Do not forget that flawless speech and writing may make you a leader, but if you want to be a remarkable one, you need to strive to be a great listener.

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Leading with a Teacher’s Heart

Teachers spend their days imparting wisdom through lessons of love, compassion and inspiration. In turn, students grow into more capable, informed and mature versions of their former selves. They take their teachers’ guidance and go on to accomplish more than ever imagined. Entrepreneurial leaders can take those same methods and adapt them for the workplace and net similar results. Here’s how to lead with a teacher’s heart.

Affective Filter

In the teaching world, instructors are aware of a concept called the affective filter. This phrase describes an abstract boundary that plays a hand in a student’s ability to acquire a second language. A high affective filter means the student may feel a combination of self-consciousness, anxiety and tension. Contrarily, a low affective filter is marked by confidence, comfort, assurance and a willingness to take risks. Affective filters can be affected by intrinsic factors but can also change due to the environment or interpersonal interactions. Teachers work to control the second two.

Great teachers foster environments of inclusivity, affirmation and acceptance. They rebuke damaging responses when student mistakes are made and respect each pupil’s preference that affect their ability to process information. Amazing leaders can do the same. Earn your employees’ trust,

New Slate Every Day

Teachers understand that their students are in a constant state of learning, which means they will make plenty of mistakes. When children are in school, they are faced with new challenges every day, some of which causes them frustration and stress. When students feel these negative emotions, they sometimes act out in ways that are not ideal. As humans, instructors naturally feel disappointment and frustration in response, but they habitually try to understand the perspective of their students and offer new mercies every morning. They have high standards and expect the best, but reserve plenty of room for grace.

As a leader of adults in a work environment, your standards will undoubtedly include a smaller margin or error, but that doesn’t cancel out the necessity for patience altogether. Follow the example that teachers set and try to start each day with patience and understanding. Remember that your employees are trying their best and want to perform just as well as you’d want them to. However, everyone has the occasional off-day or noticeable mistake.   

Specialized to Each learner  

In many of today’s schools, teachers are presented with a class of unique learners. No two students have the exact same personality, preferences or learning style. To account for those differences, great teachers individualize instruction. Adept instructors constantly assess and reassess students’ needs and progress, then do what’s best to maintain a balance of challenge and accomplishment. They also make small changes to each lesson to help students thrive. For shy students, they may only call on them when their hand is raised. For active students, they may teach a lesson that intertwines exercise with the academic concept. However they can best serve each student, they do.

On the job, leaders too can specialize tasks. Distribute  a communication style assessment and personality test to figure out how each employee works best, then adapt their environment to fit their needs. Pay attention to their communication style, then converse with them using their favorite methods.

Teachers earn their students’ trust and inspire their best work by remaining attentive and sharing information in a kind and effective way. They pour their hearts into every student, every day, without cease. You too can yield the same results with daily practice. Leading with the heart of teacher is bound to help your employees feel secure and valued, giving them the confidence to outperform even your expectations.

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Be A Better Leader With These New Year Resolutions!

Leadership is a journey that has its share of ups and downs. You can probably recall glorious moments when your team aced a big project. There may also be times when your group has to rise through failures and losses. Heading a team can feel like treading a rough road as leaders continuously try various ways to tweak and improve their management styles.

For this reason, the new year is also a wonderful time for leaders. The upcoming year presents numerous opportunities to achieve more and be better! You can avoid past mistakes or hasten current progress by carefully reflecting on the things you can do to enhance or change your leadership tactics. Leaders who set their sights on growth and development can start the year right with the suggested New Year’s resolutions below.

Be more involved with your team.

As a leader, you may enjoy power and privilege to some extent. Yet when you come to think of it, a leader is nothing without a team to lead. This irony illustrates that leaders should make it a priority to connect with the people under their wing. If you hardly know anything about your staff, then you must have been leading from a distance.

This management approach can create problems such as miscommunication and poor judgment. Your staff may also find it hard to develop trust and respect for you. This is counterproductive because a research study published by Ken Blanchard Companies reveals that employees deliver better work performance if they trust their leaders. To be more involved and develop trust with your team, you can arrange social events that encourage interaction. You can also develop an open-door policy so everyone can feel free and confident to voice their sentiments or share ideas.

Be better in time-management.

Does your year-end review reveal that you failed to accomplish many of your goals because you ran out of time for it? It is a clear sign that you need to improve your time-management skills. You can examine the activities that ate up most of your time last year that also did not produce favorable results. Maybe you will realize that you have to minimize office meetings with no clear agenda or you may discover that your staff spends too much on easy, doable tasks. To prove this point, a survey done by Harvard Business Review states the majority of managers view office meetings to be inefficient. To increase productivity in the workplace, you can resolve to eliminate distractions and set strict, but reasonable deadlines for tasks.

Love your role as a leader.

Tasks and challenges appear easier when you love what you do. So as a leader, you may need to do some self-reflection to assess how passionate you are about guiding and coaching a whole team. If you see your tasks as blessings rather than burdens, you are on the right track. But if coming to work everyday feels like a struggle, you may need to change your perspective. Choosing to be grateful for the opportunity to lead is a good start. If you truly enjoy your role, you will be more productive and can lead more effectively. Moreover, your enthusiasm will radiate and positively influence your team,

The New Year is always a time for joyous celebrations because it signifies fresh hopes and new beginnings. In terms of leadership, it is possible that the past year has not been so good, but this does not matter going forward. With the new year ahead, you have a whole new chance to start over, fix things and tremendously improve. Take the first step to improvement by making the resolutions above.  

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Easing The Transition To Leadership: Survival Tips For New Leaders

If you consistently excel in your line of work, you will surely be a top choice for a leadership post. There is no question that you deserve that most coveted promotion. No one else in the team deserves it more than you..But how certain are you that being a top achiever and a great team player will adequately prepare you to be an effective leader?

Leadership will bring in new tasks and more responsibilities. Thus, it is not unusual to feel anxious when stepping up to a higher post. Loads of worries may pop into your mind. Am I capable enough to guide a team? How can I motivate the people under me? What should do I to earn their respect and trust? Your new role will surely not be easy, but the transition to a managerial position does not have to be difficult either. Read on for strategies you can use to quickly adjust and adapt to leadership.   

Make an effort to get to know everyone.

One of the first things you should do upon accepting an offer to lead is to get to know the people in the entire organization. Especially the people that will be under your wing. You want to observe their work ethics and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Adequate information about the background of each of your staff will help you come up with effective management strategies. You can only do this by spending time and closely working with your team. This will be time well-spent because as you get closer to your team, you can also build trust and camaraderie.

Clearly relay your expectations.

Good communication is always a two-way relationship. So just as you know your team, you also want the staff to get to know you as well. You want to carve a clear direction for the team to follow and you can start by letting them know your expectations from each one of them. Aside from avoiding confusion within the team, it is also a gentle reminder of their duties and responsibilities. You can also establish accountability in the group.

Strengthen teamwork.

Instead of focusing on personal growth, your goal as leader will now shift to the development of a team. You want to build a team where the members support each other and diligently contribute to the betterment of the group.You may discover past issues and conflicts as a new leader, but it should not stop you from resolving to create a high-performance team. As the head of an organization, one of your duties is to inspire and motivate everyone to do their best. Setting achievable goals for the whole team to accomplish is one way to do that. You also want to boost the morale of your staff by encouraging them to share insights and ideas.

Take care of yourself.

You need to build stamina in order to cope with the demands of your new position. Take care of yourself by staying healthy. You can easily maintain a positive mindset and be a good example to your staff if you see to it that you get enough rest and exercise. To gain confidence in your new role, you may also want to invest time in self-improvement. You can start by enhancing your look, outfit and style.

Widen your knowledge.

Your scope of work is no longer limited to a specific task or area and this implies a greater challenge. Your desire to rise above competitors and succeed in the industry you are in should also be stronger. So find ways to gain more knowledge by attending training or seminars. You can also join organizations to grow your network and enhance your skills.

Encourage feedback.

The best way to know if your leadership style is working is by directly asking the opinions of your staff. So encourage the team to share their feedback or ask questions. It is important to let them know that you are open to any criticisms because this will help you become a better leader. You can also welcome suggestions and discuss it with the team.

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Introverts Make Great Leaders Because Of These Traits

Leadership requires a great deal of courage. As the authority figure in a group, leaders are often portrayed as tough and strict. You are expected to set the rules and the direction for the whole team to follow. These tasks require a certain level of assertiveness and confidence; traits you would usually see in an extroverted person.

Does this mean that people who are naturally quiet and reserved should abandon leadership goals? Definitely not! A 10-year study done by ghSmart, an entrepreneurial consulting company, revealed that the most successful CEOs display introvert traits. Some of these traits are listed below and show why introverts make great leaders.

Observes and listens well.

Introverts are probably not the first one to share ideas or voice out concerns in a meeting. Instead of doing all the talking, they are happy to listen to what others have to say. They are great observers, too, allowing them to carefully assess the situation. This trait makes it possible for them to see a situation in a new perspective. Once introverts decide to speak up, they may surprise everyone with fresh and brilliant ideas. An introvert’s ability to listen intently to others and think things through are essential traits for leadership. Filtering ideas in one’s head before spilling it out avoids confusion and helps a team focus on the key points of a project.

Makes careful decisions.

Decision-making is one of the most difficult tasks for a leader i and being impulsive will not help., You cannot afford to make hasty decisions when managing a group because the choices you make affect the whole team. While others may find it hard to hold off on making decisions, taking time to reflect before deciding is one of the strengths of an introvert. A leader who decides after thoroughly evaluating all sides of a situation usually makes the right choice. This helps a leader earns a team’s trust and respect.

Can work independently.

Being a social butterfly may not be the best asset of an introvert who is seen as someone who dislikes crowds or events. Though introverts are not necessarily anti-socials, they do not mind being left alone in a task. The ability to function well even while alone is beneficial as a leader. As the head of a team, you cannot rely on the support of others all the time. Instead, you should  learn how to perform tasks independently.

Can control emotions.

Conflicts are a part of life but some people cannot help but panic when things suddenly go wrong. Extroverts may have a hard time controlling their emotions. On the other hand, introverts who spend a lot of time processing thoughts in their head can think about the most appropriate reaction to a situation. The calm nature of an introverted leader can ease the worries of group members. It will also keep the motivation of a group running high despite tough times.

The notion that someone with an introvert personality will be an ineffective leader is one unfair misconception that should be broken. If you see yourself as an introvert, your chance to be a good leader is as good as that of an extroverted person. So do not ever hesitate to take a leadership role. Your innate traits as an introverted person can even make you a better leader.

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How To Regain Team Spirit After Failure: Leadership Tips

A good leader is supposed to motivate and guide a team to victory. Oftentimes, the vision of success and all the rewards that come with it is a powerful way to keep the team spirit up and running. Yet the chance of failure looms in every endeavor. A Harvard Journal survey even states that nine out of ten business start-ups fail.

So in the unfortunate scenario of failure, where and how does a leader gather the nerve to convince the team to look at the bright side and start over? The task of inspiring people is always a challenge, but to have the courage to keep on persuading everyone to give their best efforts in times of defeat is the mark of a true leader.

Prioritize your well-being.

A leader is not immune to the devastating effects of failing to accomplish a target. Just like team members, the one in charge is likely to suffer from bruised ego and crushed confidence. In fact, the head of an organization may even feel worse.

So, first things first. As a leader, start the healing process by taking steps to manage your own emotions. Make sure that you are not shrouded in negativity once you decide to face your group after a loss. It does not mean putting on a false front but showing them that you are in no way about to give up. A research study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology concluded that a leader’s mindset affects the mood of team members. It is therefore important that a leader continue to cast a positive mood even through tough times.

Give ample time for recovery.

Even though you want to make it clear that you are all moving forward, you do not have to rush into things. If you pressure everyone to move on too soon, you may end up with stressed and frustrated team members. On the other hand, giving everyone a chance to feel bad or vent about it can pave the way to a fresh start.

Discuss what went wrong.

The worst thing you can do is totally forget about the failure. Instead, you want to emphasize all the valuable lessons that the team can learn from it. So it is advisable to set a special meeting where everyone can freely talk about it. If you want this meeting to achieve its goal, acknowledge the mistakes done but do not resort to pointing fingers.

You may have set an unrealistic target or failed to lay a contingency plan. Whatever the reason, a thorough discussion about the circumstances that lead to failure will help the team avoid the same problems next time. Even so, while reflecting on the mistakes, you should also recognize the right things done. Aside from letting the team see that failures are sometimes inevitable, it is also a good reminder that failures can sometimes be a prelude to success.

Get the team ready.

While healing takes time, your team cannot get stuck in a roadblock for too long. As the team rise from the failures, an effective leader lifts everyone’s morale and gets them ready for new goals. At this stage, it is also a good idea to encourage everyone to contribute new ideas or share suggestions. After a failure, you want to see a stronger and wiser team that is ready and eager to tackle challenges ahead.

Failures can happen but the exceptional leader takes it as an opportunity to show how an organization can learn and grow from it. A leader also knows that the process of getting over a loss may be difficult, yet understands that sometimes it is just a phase that they need to go through to reach success.

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Six Easy Ways to Be an Amazing Motivational Leader

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Great leaders know that motivation is the key to success. Motivation is all about inspiring people to want keep going. People only give their max effort to those who will value it the most. You have to find a way to show them that you are that person. Keep reading for 6 ways to motivate your team:

Recognition

The best leaders take time to recognize accomplishments, improvements, and efforts that go above and beyond. Giving it your all, only to receive no acknowledgement, is demotivating. Some leaders make the mistake of justifying their inaction with sentiments like, “You should work hard, no matter who notices.” While most people do work hard, no matter the circumstance, a lack of acknowledgement can make employees feel that their efforts are intentionally being ignored. Resentment builds and before they know it, their hardest worker is now doing the bare minimum, out of spite. This can be avoided by being intentional about praise.

Empathy

People are more intrinsically inclined to produce their best work when they feel they are valued and understood. A little empathy goes a long way. Whether employees are feeling under the weather, or facing personal tragedies, they will undoubtedly feel comforted knowing their leader is genuinely concerned. Putting yourself in their shoes gives you a different viewpoint and helps you respond from that perspective. It allows you to show patience instead of frustration, kindness instead of annoyance, and mercy instead of punishment. Empathy allows you to be more human than business minded and sometimes, that’s what chaotic situations require. Real people face real problems. Everyday won’t be ideal. Having a leader who understands and respects that makes all the difference in how employees feel overall about their job and leader.

Trust

Trust is motivating factor that is often overlooked in the business realm. When a leader extends her trust, it illustrates her confidence in her employees. Having a leader who knows that you are reliable and capable motivates you to do all that you can to continue to be trustworthy.

Trust at work can present itself in many different forms. Leaders should trust employees to:

  • Problem solve without being micromanaged
  • Share their thoughts
  • Handle greater responsibility
  • Be autonomous
  • Choose how they work best
  • Manage when they need time away from work

If your team has shown themselves to be worthy of trust, give it to them. They won’t let you down.

Rewards

Most people are loyal to their company, regularly go beyond the call of duty, put in more hours than they have to, and take pride in their work. While gratefulness and words of affirmation are both necessary and appreciated, tangible gifts really drive the point home. It’s one thing to say you value strong work ethic; it’s another to prove it.

Consider giving:

  • Random days off
  • Catered lunches
  • Vacation packages
  • Gift cards

Fun Environment

Fact: Happy people are more effective. No one wants to wake up early, get dressed, and sit in traffic only to spend 8 hours in a place that they hate. The nature of the work may be serious, but that doesn’t mean that the office needs to be stuffy. Create an environment where stress is low, laughs are plenty and your staff actually wants to smile. Schedule team builders, leave the office occasionally, decorate, open some windows. Consider implementing spirit weeks and parties. Relax the dress code. Play games, sing karaoke, take dance breaks – be lighthearted.

In the same regard, make sure to have strict policies against things that cause bad feelings in the office. Bullying, sexual harassment, and workplace gossip should all have a zero tolerance policy.

Advancement

Humans desire growth; it’s in our DNA. While familiarity is comfortable and change can be scary, most of us still set goals in pursuit of the next level. We desire challenge and celebrate our ability to conquer it. Even with the best pay, benefits, and leadership, an unchallenged employee will leave. As a respected leader, know that this is true and plan ahead. Encourage employees to continually pursue higher education and advanced certifications. Don’t frustrate your team by failing to provide new opportunities. Prove that you see the progress they’ve made and you have a vision for their potential. Give them new responsibilities that you think they’d do well with. Offer new roles and compensate accordingly.

As a leader, your job is to continually bring out the best of each member of your team. If you prioritize your employees and they will, in turn, prioritize the business. The 6 methods above will help you make motivation your mission.

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3 Unpredictable Things Leadership Can Teach You

When you think of the term ‘leadership’ and what it means, what words come to mind? Determination, commitment, discipline, wisdom, values, passion, purpose? All of those sound about right. And it’s true. When you practice and hone your leadership skills you will become more determined, committed, disciplined, and wise. Your values, passion, and purpose will become stronger and more grounded in what you believe. But there are also some things you learn along the way that you wouldn’t expect right off the bat. Here are 3 unpredictable things leadership can teach you.

Leadership can teach you to be interdependent

Traditionally, leadership is all about being a strong, confident, and completely self-reliant person. But surprisingly, the most powerful leaders have learned the importance of interdependence. Being mutually dependent on someone means you have the freedom to learn from each other. True leaders embrace the opportunity to gain insight any chance they can––including from the people they mentor. Through mentoring others, true leaders become a pro at learning from others and creating strong interdependent relationships.

Leadership can teach you to take a step back

Leaders are naturally assertive, go-getter individuals. But the best and most experienced leaders have learned when to take a step back and let the other person or teams of people learn for themselves. When you’re not visibly taking charge of a situation, you are empowering the people you lead to use their resources and develop their own strengths. The best leaders have found a passion in developing the strengths and talents of others.

Leadership can teach you to welcome your failures

While earning a leadership role requires a great deal of success, the path to this success is not without failure along the way. However, not only does true leadership teach you to accept your failures, but it teaches you to become accustomed to it and even welcome it. In fact, failure can become one of the most powerful enablers because true leaders know that it’s what you do with your failures that defines your influence as a leader.

So, yes, being in a leadership position does require a large amount of determination and wisdom. But it also takes so much more than that. The next time you find yourself in a position of influence pay close attention to these 3 unpredictable things leadership can teach you.  

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