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How to Become a Better Leader with 5 Simple Steps

In the professional world, many people aspire to be leaders but few are willing to call themselves such. This was demonstrated when Leadership Coach Drew Dudley began his Tedx Talk in Toronto. He asked the audience to raise their hands if they were comfortable calling themselves a leader. Surprisingly, only a few people raised their hands. In response, Dudley said that when we make leadership into something bigger than us, we not only learn not to accept this quality in others, but we also learn to not expect it from ourselves.

This might sound unimportant, but when it comes to business, it’s a crucial aspect to seeing your company succeed. Plus, time and time again, studies have shown that poor leadership is the number one reason people quit their jobs. Leigh Branham’s book “7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave’” demonstrates this irrefutably with his comprehensive survey of 20,000 people, the results of which supported the notion that strong leadership is key to employee engagement.

So to ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes, here are the top 5 simple ways to improve your leadership skills and keep your staff happy.

Use names – always

People feel valued when they make a connection with their colleagues. That is why it’s important that you take the time to get to know them on a more personal level. This has been demonstrated to have incredible effects on the way people perceive leaders. Even leaders like Bill Clinton made an effort to remember the names of people he met on the campaign trail. Your employees will feel appreciated when you show that you remember their name, so make a point to use it when talking to them.

Maintain eye contact

Eye contact is an effective way to show that you’re interested in what the person is saying, plus it increases authority and reliability. Whether you’re having a one on one conversation or presenting a speech to a room full of people, doing your best to make eye contact says a lot about your leadership skills.

Know handshake etiquette

A bad handshake can live on forever. Need we mention Mark Latham and John Howard’s infamous example during the 2004 election? In much the same way, your business leadership can – and will – be judged from the way you handle your handshakes. To avoid a faux pas that will live on forever, approach the person you are greeting with your palm facing upwards and your arm outstretched – this will communicate confidence and openness. Using both your hands will also indicate sincerity and control of the situation, and don’t forget to combine this with the previous rule of eye contact. Don’t get too close or too intense, but make sure your hand doesn’t resemble a dead fish. A nice middle ground is the best place to be when asserting your leadership skills.

Know your stuff

There’s nothing worse than a leader who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. So if you’re introducing a new set of processes or are presenting ideas to your employees, make sure you can answer any relevant questions they might throw at you. You want to be able to wow them with your knowledge and make them feel secure in your capabilities as a leader. This was demonstrated most notably when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked a condescending question by a journalist regarding quantum computing, to which he went on to answer in detail. When you know your stuff, you impress those who look up to you, so be a leader who understands what they’re talking about.

Be involved

It might sound cliché, but great leaders really do lead from the back. You want to motivate and connect with your employees, so involvement in workplace discussions, projects and activities is crucial. Striking up a conversation or helping someone with their work load can do wonders for the way they see you, and will make an impression that is sure to last the long haul.

When you position yourself as an engaging, approachable leader, your employees will feel comfortable and connected with your presence in the workplace. Remember that workplace morale begins with the leaders, so if you are a positive example of what it is to be a great one, the rest are sure to follow.


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