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5 Useful Steps to Better Your Leadership Skills

Leadership Coach Drew Dudley recently asked the audience of a Ted*talk in Toronto how many of them would consider themselves a leader. Only a very small number of people actually put up their hands. His message was essentially this: when we make the idea of leadership something much bigger than us, we don’t expect it from others and thus we learn to not expect it from ourselves

Whilst this idea may seem rather small, it’s anything but. Improved leadership is applicable to every aspect of life and can especially help individuals succeed in the business world. Leigh Branham is the author of the book “7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave,” and he recently surveyed 20,000 people to discover why they quit their last job. The number one reason was poor senior leadership.

Listed below are five straight forward methods to improve your leadership skills and keep your staff happy:

1. Always remember and use names

Connection with people is invaluable and demonstrates you have made the effort to get to know them. A prime example is when Bill Clinton staggered voters and employees by remembering individuals he’d met only once or twice while on the campaign trail. He would always use the name in verbalised sentences and the people he spoke to said it felt as though they were speaking to an old friend. So in future, if you run into someone in the office or on the street, don’t simply nod and smile. Use them name and ask them how they’re going. This little bit of effort can accomplish a lot.

2. Make eye contact

Regardless of whether you’re making a speech to a packed room, or during one-on-one dialogue, using eye contact in conversation is a must. The Journal of Safety Science conducted a study which found that vehicles were much more likely to stop for pedestrians who looked directly into their eyes as they crossed. Eye contact helps to increase your authority and make you appear more reliable.

3. Master your handshake

Politics is filled with handshake horror stories and awkward moments that actually manage to sway public opinion one way or the other. This also applies for commonplace leadership. When you’re about to shake someone’s hand, make sure you face your palm up and keep your arm outstretched as you walk forward. This demonstrates confidence and openness. To display sincerity and control, clasp both hands in yours and maintain eye contact. The trick is to make sure you’re not too limp, or crushing their hand in the process.

4. Be knowledgeable

Whether you’re deciding on a new direction for the business or implementing a refined system, it’s essential to know what you’re talking about. A prime example is when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau floored a condescending journalist who asked him to explain quantum computing at a press conference by providing an in-depth description of the systems involved. He managed to do just that, demonstrating his evidently in-depth knowledge on the topic and establishing his authority in the process. Whenever you’re implementing a new system, make sure to do your research. Your team will be much likelier to respect your decisions if they come from a positon of knowledge.

5. Stay involved

It might be a cliché expression, but good leaders really do lead from the back lines. Make sure to get your hands dirt and get involved in team activities below your pay grade, or oversee something being organising when you’re familiar with the processes involved. Even just a few minutes talking to a team member about their ideas shows you’re open-minded and eager to listen. Employees will then perceive you as a serious professional who worked hard to reach their current position and whose achievements are much more than just words on a resume.

All of these simple changes go far to make individuals value your presence and respect your input, whilst boosting your leadership status in their eyes for future engagement. When you learn to expect small gestures of leadership from yourself, then your employees will begin to emulate your excellent work.




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