The start of the New Year is often a good time to reflect on goals, accomplishments, challenges and more. As the leader of your organization, it’s a good time to assess how well you’ve done managing team members, deadlines and more.
As employee expectations shift and corporate culture continue to change, you must be willing to adopt and consider how you too can evolve to be a better leader.
6 Ways to Become a Better Leader
As you look back on your year, ask yourself the following questions and consider how you can change for the better in 2017.
Did I Lead by Example?
Did you lead by example on a daily basis, whether you were being kind to an employee or meeting an important deadline? Employees respect leaders who model the proper way for them to act on a daily basis, not just “when it counts;” if you set rules for others but don’t follow them yourself, you come across as hypocritical.
For example, if tardiness is your biggest pet peeve, yet you frequently show up late, you’re setting the opposite example for them. Showing them that you are also capable of doing what is expected shows that you respect the rules and them.
Become a better leader: What is one way that you did not lead by example in 2016? Make it your number one goal to remedy that in 2017.
Do You Have an Open Door Policy?
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the problems and issues you deal with on a regular basis—as a leader, the load weighs heaviest on your shoulders. The worst thing you can do, however, is to become unavailable to your team because you’re overwhelmed. If they feel that they can’t come to you because they’re interrupting or bugging you, they won’t ask for your input where it’s needed or make important decisions without your feedback.
Good leaders establish a clear line of communication between themselves and all team members. This creates a positive work environment, fosters innovation and encourages teamwork.
Become a better leader: If it’s challenging for you to have unexpected meetings with employees on a daily basis, schedule a weekly meeting where they can ask questions, get your feedback and more.
Can You Keep Your Cool?
If you panic easily or become frustrated or angry at the slightest sign of trouble, it’s hard to build trust and respect among your employees. “The composure of a leader is reflected in their attitude, body language and overall presence. In today’s evolving workplace, it is clear that leadership is not only about elevating the performance, aptitude and development of people – but more so about the ability to make people feel safe and secure,” says Glenn Llopis, Forbes contributor.
Become a better leader: One reason why leaders get overwhelmed is that they take on too much. In 2017, remember that you can and should delegate whenever possible. This opens you up to spending more time on the most important issues, rather than being bombarded with all of them.
Do You Take an Interest in Others?
It’s important that you get to know and understand your employees. Great leaders are emotionally aware of the different opinions and feelings within the workplace, allowing them to tailor their management styles for maximum effectiveness.
Engaging with your employees will also make them happy because it shows that they matter—no one wants to feel like another cog in the machine. Feeling seen boosts their self-esteem, according to experts at The Office Club, which leads to improved productivity and investment in the company.
Become a better leader: If you haven’t already, plan lunch dates with all of your employees, even if it’s just in the office, which allows you to learn more about them. Make this a regular process for incoming employees so you start the relationship on the right foot.
Do You Bring a Positive Energy and Confidence to the Office?
Your attitude trickles down to the lower level employees you manage, and has a large impact on how they feel and work. While being in charge of others can be a daunting task, it should never be an excuse for negativity, which can lead your team to wonder if they’re doing something wrong.
With personal failure being the number one fear of Americans, it’s important that you actively combat this issue by trying to stay positive and confident. This is even more important when your business is in trouble:
“The team needs to be calm to focus. It's essential you show confidence and a collected demeanor in front of your team, regardless of the emotions flowing through your veins. Direct the focus away from fear to the task of turning around the business,” says Marty Fukuda, COO of N2 Publishing.
Become a better leader: If you find it hard to stay positive in the office, or struggling with overcoming the fear of failure, confide in a mentor. They will likely understand what you’re dealing with and can offer insight, tips and steps for moving past these issues.
Did You Take a Vacation?
Just because you’re a leader, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a vacation just like everyone else. In fact, you probably need it. The Washington Post reports that when people go on vacation, they return happier, more relaxed and it spreads like a ripple effect to those around them.
If you’re scared to go on vacation and leave someone else in charge, remember that it could be the perfect opportunity for lower-level employee to step-up, which makes them feel good and helps prepare them for growth within the company.
Become a better leader: If you feel as though you can’t take an entire week off, plan to take at least one Friday off a month so you can have a 3-day weekend to re-charge. Choose your Friday during the first week of the month and add it to your work calendar. No one will schedule meetings for you that day so you’ll have no excuse not to follow through with it.
Sometimes becoming a better leader means changing things personally, while other times it’s about working with employees in a more effective manner. Use these ideas to make 2017 a rewarding and career-changing year for you.
About the Author: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a fulltime blogger. She spent the two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she experienced both good and poor leadership, especially in troubling situations. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for StartupNation, Manta and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for more small business and leadership tips.