How a business is managed often decides if the company lives or dies. A good leader inspires the best work from employees, uses finite resources and time wisely, communicates well and shoulders their share of the responsibilities. This is why proper training is so important, especially for future leaders. When good leadership is present, the team is more willing to cooperate and tackle difficult tasks. This leads to a successful business or project.
How do you properly train a future leader, or refine someone’s natural leadership skills? The first thing to focus on is communication skills, especially in the case of having more than one boss. Some ways to improve communication include:
Effective use of body language.
You want your body language to say the same thing you’re speaking. Actions and words should align – otherwise, the person’s instructions could come off as hypocritical, demanding or confusing.
For example: if you’re asking someone to do something, don’t point. Instead, gesture to them with your hand open, the palm facing up.
Be consistent with what you say.
Make it clear in advance what your expectations are, and then stand behind what you say. Don’t change the rules because of convenience. If allowances must be made, be transparent in your reasoning and allow others to give their input.
Some suggest you “over-communicate” – be redundant and explicit in your instructions so that there’s no confusion or second-guessing.
Promote effective listening.
You could be the best public speaker in the world, but if your audience is asleep, your words are wasted on them. Promote good listening by example. When you first meet with your team, open the floor to them so that they can talk. Listen thoughtfully, and only give your input when they finish speaking. It may be difficult, but it’s a sign of respect, and you communicate (nonverbally) that your employees have a voice.
Constructive criticism is essential to learning and growth. Use mistakes and failures as teaching tools. If someone is unaware that they’re doing something wrong, calm, gentle course-correction will help them overcome a particular shortcoming or flaw. When criticizing someone, always begin and end your statement by saying what they’re doing right and thanking them for their hard work. Lead by example – instead of saying “do this”, actually demonstrate it.
Additionally, the boss is not immune to mistakes. Being an approachable, open-minded leader will make it easier for employees to come forward with their own constructive criticism.
Critical thinking employs logic and self-awareness. The best bosses use critical thinking to solve problems before they happen and seize passing opportunities. Critical thinking requires creativity, open-mindedness and wisdom, which is gained over time.
There are many free and affordable resources available to train current and future leaders, including online courses and articles. These courses and manuals promote communication, detail how to give good feedback, encourage critical thinking and begins to mold an individual into a leader.
Constant learning and improving will help you reach your full potential as a leader – and once you do, you can guide your team and business down the road of success.
Annie Grace Wilson is a Public Relations Specialist for Diversity Best Practices. She regularly produces content for a variety of blogs that cover topics on leadership, character building and teamwork.