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7 Ways You Can Be a Better Leader    

  • By Andrea Schlapia
  • |
  • January 20, 2015

7 Ways You Can Be a Better Leader     

“If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl,

but whatever do, you have to keep moving forward.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr


The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are just as powerful today as when he first spoke them.

For many of us, this is a time to reflect on our past accomplishments and establish goals for the New Year. Specific leadership goals and continual leadership development are often overlooked, but important to be included as part of a formal process.

Here are 7 actions you can start using today to become a better leader:

  1. Admit Your Mistakes

One of the most powerful opportunities to build trust and respect with your team is to admit your mistakes. Doing so will require that you hold yourself accountable and have courage. Good leaders worry less about popularity and more about doing what is right.

Tip: Think about this – do you respect those who aren’t able to take responsibility for their mistakes? More than likely, no. When you make a mistake, admit it – without excuses.   

  1. Acknowledge the Value of Each Employee

Don’t expect each employee to be just like you.  You hired them to fill a critical position in your firm, one that requires a unique skill set. Studies by Gallup, the Corporate Leadership Council, and others tell us that employee recognition links directly to employee engagement, improved job performance, and increased business value.

Tip: Intentionally find employees doing exemplary work and acknowledge their efforts. Use formal and informal recognition and emphasize the improved quality of work, not just the quantity of effort.

  1. Stop Micromanaging

Absolutely no one enjoys being micromanaged. It lowers motivation, job satisfaction, and employee engagement. Despite the negative side effects, many leaders can’t let go and often times don’t realize they are micromanaging. Test yourself:

  • Are you never quite satisfied with employee work?
  • Do you feel disappointed or frustrated because employees make decisions without consulting you?
  • Do you take pride in making corrections?
  • Do you want to know where your team members are and what they are working on?
  • Do you devote a lot of time overseeing projects or ask for frequent updates?
  • Would you prefer to be copied on emails?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are a micromanager.

Tip: Stop micromanaging now. It has negative effects on your team’s morale and productivity. Implement alternatives to micromanagement into your leadership style. Track assignments electronically by establishing estimates of time, cross-train employees, outsource technical or menial duties and tasks to increase productivity.

  1. Give More Feedback

Employees crave feedback. Make performance management and feedback part of your culture. Schedule informal meetings throughout the year to improve communication, build rapport, and provide a benchmark to ensure goals are consistently met.

Tip: Keep in mind, employees will support what they help create. Use your meeting time to reassess tasks and collaborate with team members.

  1. Provide Employees With Opportunities to Grow

Attracting and retaining top performing employees is a big struggle for many employers. With proper leadership, foresight, and planning, employers can avoid the costly expense of losing employees.

There are three important factors that need to be in place to increase employee engagement, enthusiasm, and retention rates:

  • Job Descriptions
  • Career Paths
  • Performance Management

Without these dynamics, you are falling short of your responsibility to secure a productive, captivated, and loyal team.

Tip: It is essential to understand the desired career path of your team members and provide a map with defined steps, actions, and time frames to move from point A to point B. In order to equip your team with this information you need to understand the personal career goals of each team member and how they align with those of your firm.

  1. Move From Delegation to Empowerment

Leaders must understand empowering others does not relinquish their responsibility to lead a team. In fact, it will enhance leadership skills and team achievement.  Empowerment stretches abilities, encourages creativity, drives self-motivation, increases loyalty, improves productivity, and directly impacts client service.

Tip: Provide employees with the resources needed when assigning new responsibility. In order to empower your team you will need to increase their accountability, support them to make decisions, and allow them autonomy.

  1. Teach Culture

Team leadership is responsible for establishing the culture your firm embodies. Culture binds organizations together and should be as unique as each person on the team. Why? Diverse teams are difficult to replicate and provide a competitive advantage. Culture in your firm is a direct reflection of the example established by leadership.

Tip: Implement intentional culture. Establish cultural training as part of your hiring and onboarding process, incorporate characteristics most critical to success, respect diverse perspectives regardless of hierarchy position, and display excitement toward goal achievement. For more information on culture, download our 10-Step Checklist to Create the Company Culture You Desire

Leaders must demonstrate the values they want employees to follow.

The best leaders never stop learning.

The foundation of our Performance Coaching and Consulting Programs are based on Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™, which is essential to design, develop, and sustain a successful business. Our ultimate goal is to help you avoid trial and error; shifting your mindset to launch your process of intentional change. [LEARN MORE]

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Author Bio

Andrea Schlapia, RCC™, HCS, sHRBP, is the Founder and CEO of Ironstone, which represents the culmination of her 20+ year career within the financial services industry. Her experience began as a financial advisor evolving into a consultant coach for advisors entering the field. This ignited her passion to support others through learning and development of best practices in order to achieve substantial results. To this end, she followed her desire into positions of senior-level practice management specialists for Dreyfus, Prudential, and DWS Investments prior to the realization of Ironstone.  Andrea’s focus is on practice management strategies to enhance and improve both business and personal life. Andrea identifies 4 key performance areas known as the Fundamental 4™, which are required to design, develop, and sustain a successful business. Through coaching sessions and speaking engagements, she captivates her audience with interactive, high-energy presentations which are built with “how-to” strategies resulting in real-world implementation for significant impact. Andrea has been featured in multiple publications and audio broadcasts as a specialist and distinguished spokeswoman in the financial industry.