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5 Steps to Being a Better Leader

There was a TEDx talk held in Toronto a few years ago, where speaker Drew Dudley (a renowned leadership coach) asked everyone in the audience who was happy to refer to themselves as a leader. Like every other time he’d asked the same thing to different audiences throughout the country, there were very few who actually raised their hands.

He then went on to explain that these days, leadership has developed into something that’s now bigger than us, and as a result it’s an unexpected characteristic for both others and ourselves. Now, while it might come across as a relatively small notion, it’s anything but. The results of a 20,000-strong survey conducted by Leigh Branham (author of ‘7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave’) which asked why they left their previous job revealed bad senior leadership as the numero uno cause.

To help you work on your leadership skills and ensure staff happiness, we’ve put together a list of five things to consider.

  1. Memorise names and use them

People appreciate that you’ve taken the time to actually remember their name. When you’re talking with them, be sure to use it as it helps build a connection. Keep in mind, though, that you can overdo it (and may come across manipulative or condescending), so make sure it’s naturally inserted into the conversation.

  1. Understand and practice handshake etiquette

Next to looks, a handshake can make up a large part of first impressions. The way one is conducted can tell us a lot; too soft and limp (the dead fish) indicates insecurity and low self-esteem, too hard and bone-crunching and they’re trying to intimidate. There are of course many other types of handshakes that mean different things, but we’ll focus on what you should do instead of what you shouldn’t.

It’s important to keep it firm but not too firm, and when you’re approaching one you should either have your palm up or sideways – never facing downward.

  1. Maintain eye contact

Whether you’re speaking with one other person or a hundred, being able to make good eye contact is very important. It shows that you’re paying attention to what’s being said, and when you’re the one talking it helps create a bond between you and your audience.

Maintain eye contact easier by focusing from one eye to the other and back again, but don’t simply stare through the whole conversation. Brief breaks are imperative, and this can be done by quickly looking to their left or right. Don’t look down – that portrays submission or shame.

  1. Stay informed

You want your team to be able to approach you and feel confident in your knowledge on your craft. The more you read up on industry news and information, the more trust your team members will have for you as the leader.

To add to this, be approachable. If your team isn’t comfortable asking you questions, you’re definitely doing something wrong.

  1. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty

The best leaders will be happy to help their team succeed no matter what, even if that means doing something that’s below their pay grade. When you work on projects with your team and they see you’re more than willing to get heavily involved with whatever process is required, it shows you’ve worked hard to reach your position and will build respect.

All of the above changes, while simple to make, can really make a big difference in how much your presence is valued and respected. Going back to Drew Dudley’s point at the beginning of this post, if you start expecting leadership characteristics from yourself, your staff will as well.

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