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5 Ways to Be a Better Leader This Year

Posted by Louellen Essex on January 7, 2016 in Team Development

A new year presents an opportunity to fine-tune your leadership skills with new ideas or to refresh what you already know that may have gone dormant. Think about what you did well in 2015 and how you could have been even more effective. Here are some ways you can significantly improve your approach, making for a happier you and a more satisfied workforce.

1. Pause more often. Take time to carefully think about what you are doing and why. Resist the urge to respond immediately to the demands of others. Buy a little time to take a measured approach, assessing the situation and the people involved. Become calmer and more reflective. In 2016, vow not to become a victim to the tyranny of the urgent.

2. Spend more quality time with each staff member. Imagine what you could learn if you often met individually with your staff members, exploring their needs and viewpoints. Identify their strengths and search for untapped potential, focusing on what they are doing well. Make it a point to give specific praise. Pay more attention to your staff. In 2016, make talent development a priority.

3. Speak with more candor. Deal more quickly and directly with staff members who have performance issues, addressing problems before they grow bigger and more difficult to manage. As you meet with others, be truly authentic by expressing your viewpoint more honestly. Avoid the trap of conflict avoidance, which may render you weaker than you need to be. In 2016, be a little bolder.

4. Become crystal clear about your strategy. Diminish confusion about the direction your work unit is heading and the tact you are taking to get there. Display a visible road map with action steps and keep it updated. Engage your staff members in frequent discussions about goals and how to achieve them. In 2016, ensure no one who works by your side lacks clarity about the course being taken.

5. Reduce stress in yourself and others. First, examine your own behaviors to determine what you might be doing to cause undue anxiety for others. Are you indecisive or quick to make decisions without others’ input? Slow to respond to important questions? Too dominant or non-communicative? Are you void of self-care that would help manage the demands placed on you? Does your anxiety spill over to others? In 2016, make stress management an important element of your leadership, creating a more relaxed work environment.

A new year is a blank book waiting to be written. Oprah Winfrey said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” At the end of the year, when you reflect on what you’ve accomplished and how you have done it, make sure you can say you are an even better leader than you were in 2015. Get it right in 2016!

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In these times of rapid change, leaders can never stop learning.”

Dr. Louellen Essex