Most of the time, people understand that leadership is important. However, many don’t know what it entails or how to develop this trait. Leadership is not something that you are born with; instead, it can be learned and earned over time and through experience.
The best leaders understand how to motivate others and delegate responsibilities effectively while still holding everyone accountable for their actions, as well as the goals they have set out to accomplish together as a team.
In order to become a good leader, you have to develop 5 key skills that are required to effectively motivate and delegate while demanding accountability from those under your supervision.
How To Become A Good Leader In 5 Steps
1. Be a good listener
I get it. You’re busy. You have so many things you want to achieve that sometimes you don’t feel like listening to others. Or put another way, you “pretend” to listen while biding your time before you get to express your own thoughts or half looking at your phone or computer screen.
But when you behave in this way, you’re communicating to your team that you don’t value their input, which is the polar opposite of what a good leader is expected to do.
If you make the habit of giving your undivided attention to those talking to you, you will not only show that you value their opinion (even if it differs from yours,) but you might also discover that the dissenting opinion may carry in it the seed of a great opportunity.
As a leader, you’re always looking for new ideas to grow your business and one of the best ways to attract them is to listen to members of your team as if they were peers, regardless of where they fit in the hierarchy.
Listening with full attention helps you identify potential problems and come up with solutions. Active listening can also give you valuable insights into new business ideas or unexplored pivots that perhaps you haven’t considered before.
2. Show empathy
If you want to make the world a better place, start by making life easier for those around you. It’s important to understand that everyone is different and that no one will ever think like you do — To be successful, you must build meaningful relationships with your team, your customers and your suppliers. No one wants to feel like a number, especially when they are dedicating their careers to follow your vision.
Think about what the people in your circle are looking for and give it to them. Some of the most successful leaders focus on making their staff feel special and appreciated; this may sound like a soft ethereal concept but in fact may lead your team and your business to great heights.
3. Encourage others to speak up and share their ideas
Your employees are the most important asset in your business. They have valuable ideas that can make or break your company. As I share in my book Getting Naked - The Bare Necessities of Entrepreneurship and Startups, encourage others to speak up and share their ideas with each other to learn from them.
This will help you build stronger relationships, improve productivity, create an open environment where people feel comfortable sharing thoughts, opinions and suggestions on how things could be done better.
Don’t try to force your ideas on others. Simply present them to your team and create a mastermind where the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. The best ideas often “trickle up” from below.
Although Steve Jobs was the leader that brought the iPhone to life, Apple designer John Casey was the first reported to circulate a mockup of the initial concept, which he called the TelliPod — a cross between a phone and an iPod.
And Google Maps was originally designed by two Danish brothers who later on pitched the idea to Google management, who wisely took them up on it.
4. Give constructive feedback that will help the person grow professionally and personally
Being the leader of an organization is about more than just getting people to do what you need for the company, it’s nurturing and empowering the human beings that work with you.
With that in mind, a strong leader never hesitates to give constructive feedback where needed provided it helps people grow professionally and personally.
Now, giving constructive feedback is hard. Most of us have the tendency to sugar coat things, being afraid of hurting others’ feelings; but people can’t learn from you if you don’t give them the opportunity to improve.
As a good leader, you always want to put yourself in the position of mentor to your subordinates.
By sharing your life experience and your lessons with those who haven’t been exposed to the same bumps and turns, you’re teaching them how to be better equipped to face challenges in the future.
And when those challenges do arise, you’ll be in a much better position to tackle them when your entire team is on the same page.
5. Ask for input before making decisions or giving orders
Leaders are often faced with several difficult decisions. It’s important to consider the potential consequences of your choices and mitigate any risks that may arise from them by involving everyone who depends on the outcome of your decisions.
In other words, as you provide constructive criticism from others, you need to be prepared to solicit input as well. Even if you are at the top of the decision-making chain, you always want to empower others to participate in your process. The decisions will always be better that way.
For example, Elon Musk had just launched the highly successful Model 3 to the world market when in his spirit of innovation decided to take his game to the next level with his upcoming model Y by completely reinventing the car and the assembly line.
But his direct reports convinced him that in order to become a true car manufacturer, he would have to give up on that idea and instead repurpose as many car parts and assembly equipment from the Model 3 as possible, otherwise the cost overruns would kill the project and perhaps even the company. So he acquiesced and now he has two highly successful models.
Now that you’ve learned the 5 steps to becoming a good leader, it’s time to put the rubber to the road, and begin practicing these important skills with anyone you meet, whether they’re involved in your business or not.
Practice not only with your team but also with your colleagues, your spouse, your children and your friends. These 5 qualities will help you become a good leader in every area of your life.