Back to Basics: Be a More Effective Leader in 2015

Improvement is crucial in staying competitive in an ever-changing business environment. However, sometimes improving is easier said than done. To become a more effective leader in 2015, it may be time you go back to basics.

Focus on Yourself

Before you can be an effective leader, you must first be able to lead yourself. Take a self-assessment to determine what kind of leader you are—and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect, and even the greatest leaders in history had weaknesses. You may not be able to change your weaknesses into strengths, but you can see them as learning opportunities. Lessen your weaknesses and build your strengths by focusing on what you’re good at and surrounding yourself with colleagues who complement you. One personal characteristic that can be a morale killer is being too hard on yourself. Your team will notice your negativity and it may spread throughout the office. Focus on being better to yourself and then turn to your team to lead them to do the same.

Read Up on History

Staying well-read is a valuable tool when leading an organization. And although it is wise to read up on leadership books and listen to business podcasts, it can be just as helpful to “read up” on your competition. Pick your five closest competitors and learn their history. What are some of their greatest triumphs? How did they overcome certain obstacles? What are the biggest mistakes they’ve made? By learning from similar organizations, you can borrow methods or avoid their pitfalls. And while the age-old saying, “know your enemy,” is still applicable, the flipside is just as valuable—know yourself. Take the new year as an opportunity to read up on your company’s history, including what/who built it into the organization it is today. Before you know where you’re going, it is important to know where you’ve been.

Expect the Worst

The most difficult aspect of trials and hardships is the unpredictable. When a project fails or an issue arises, it often occurs when you were expecting the opposite. That’s why problems carry such a heavy burden for the parties involved. When you expected a win, a loss can be devastating to a team—and sometimes hard to recover from. Though it is good to have high expectations for your organization, it is also great to operate under Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. No one can predict the future, but you can plan for the worst. When developing your yearly plan or employee development techniques, try and picture every outcome, including personal shortcomings, project holdups, and employee turnover, as well as simple solutions for each problem. Should these issues arise, you and your team will be able to push past them and get back on track.

Empower Your Team

U.S. General George S. Patton once said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” One of the most effective leadership techniques is empowering your team with self-worth and self-esteem. Giving your team the tools and freedom to overcome obstacles the way they see fit is one of the surest ways to build a team that will follow you anywhere. Moreover, according to a Gallup survey, only 45% of men and 50% of women are satisfied with the recognition they receive at work for their accomplishments. The 50-55% of workers who aren’t satisfied with recognition may not be engaged in meeting goals in 2015. Scare tactics and fear may work in the short term, but leading by developing your team through motivation and encouragement is the best way to get them to buy into your organization’s vision.

Regardless of your achievements and shortcomings this year, 2015 is a fresh opportunity to take the reins of your team and be a more effective leader. By mastering these four techniques, you will be on your way to a successful business year. What do you do to ensure you are being an effective leader? Let us know in the comments section below!

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