Not everybody can be a leader. Even among people who do find their way into a leadership position, not everybody is equipped to inspire the same level of success. If you lead a team of employees, it’s worth exploring which skills and personality traits leaders you should invest in for the best “return.” Among other things, setting your employees up for success means committing to these five steps.
1. Delegate to Empower
You’ve heard it so often that it probably feels like a cliche — mediocre leaders try to do it all, while great leaders delegate.
However, there’s a lot more to delegation than tasks merely changing hands. We’re here to talk about leading your employees to success, and that takes a kind of delegation that goes beyond offloading busywork to your subordinates.
The goal with delegation should, first, be about creating a sensible and harmonious workflow throughout your team and making sure responsibilities are shared equitably. But you should also be delegating tasks, as often as possible, in a way that plays to the strengths of everybody on your team, even while you challenge them with new goals and new types of tasks.
2. Give Feedback More Organically
Much of the employer-employee relationship can start to feel rote and formulaic after some time passes and each party falls into the annual review routine.
Two problems come along with giving feedback rarely, intermittently or on a schedule. For a start, millennial’s and younger generations prefer to touch base and receive feedback more regularly. That makes this an excellent way to connect with them and build a rapport. That brings us to the second reason to give honest feedback, both positive and negative, more regularly — it just feels more natural for everybody involved, and helps build a workplace where ideas can flow more freely.
3. Inspire Exploration and — Reasonable — Risk-Taking
Some leaders play it safe and “by the book,” but history has a habit of forgetting leaders who color inside the lines. If you want to preside over a collection of minds unafraid to take risks and attempt new ideas and innovations, that’s a quality that must filter down from the top.
That means making sure your employees know it’s okay to try new ways of doing things. Plus, your “open door policy” should be as “open” as possible, meaning anybody, from anywhere in the company, should feel comfortable and empowered coming to you with suggestions for improvements and changes — or even brand-new ideas.
4. Provide an Example Worth Emulating
As a leader in the workplace, you expect a certain minimum level of integrity from your employees. But what happens if your team members don’t have an example worth following? Personal integrity can take many forms, and not all of them are loud and obvious gestures. In a hundred small ways, throughout each day, your actions can influence the behavior of your team members at work. And then, those habits translate elsewhere in life.
The business ethics parts of this conversation probably don’t need to be explained. The short version is to always speak the truth, admit to your mistakes and deal with others fairly and respectfully. But what about the thousand other ways people exude a sense of approach-ability and a commitment to fair dealing? Start with greeting others with a smile, committing yourself to lending an ear whenever it’s needed and generally treating others how you’d like to be treated. Your employees will answer in kind — and may just find themselves emulating your example elsewhere, too.
5. Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
Finally, let’s close with a reminder to not take life too seriously. Failing that, try not to take life seriously all the time. Employees all over the world want to work for a boss and a company that attempts to make work a little more fun and light. You don’t have to install a spiral slide or a snow cone machine to elevate the mood in your workplace, though.
Let’s be honest: life is ludicrous, and the only thing that matters is the quality of our human relationships. Surviving to old age requires that we all take part in a variety of institutions, including gainful employment, but it doesn’t mean we have to let those institutions replace our personalities or our ability to speak plainly and companionably with one another whenever we want or need to.
If you want to lead in a way that encourages success in the workplace and beyond, you need to bring a mixture of qualities that would appear at first to be contradictory — you need an authoritative willingness to compromise.
What this really means is that leaders and employees alike should have convictions, aspirations and ideas that are fully realized and defended by logic and passion. But it also means reacting with grace to new information and being willing to change and compromise. This is leadership in a nutshell — and executing it well means everybody involved is set up for success and empowered to do their best work possible.