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How to Become a Better Leader

Whether in their first management position or at the top of an organizational chart, good leaders never stop growing. In addition, when managers get better, the entire organization benefits: Numerous studies confirm that good leaders correlate with high employee satisfaction, engagement, commitment, and even profitability.1

Below are some attributes that can help you become a better leader:

Communication.

Arguably the most important leadership skill, communication is often a top area for improvement. According to one study, managers who improved their overall effectiveness over a 12- to 18-month period were more likely to have improved their communication skills than any other attribute.2

To update your communication skills, find ways to play to your strengths and improve on weaknesses. If you have been told your e-mails are unclear, have a co-worker review them before you hit send. If your team is reluctant to approach you, establish an open-door policy or make a point of walking around and speaking to everyone. Remember that communication includes listening, not just speaking.

Set expectations—and enforce them.

Studies show that at all levels, only half of leaders hold people to task when they don’t deliver.3 It’s vital to set expectations for your team and yourself and ensure that everyone contributes.

Give feedback.

Employees—and especially younger generations—want to know how they are doing. More than half (60 percent) of respondents in one survey said they want feedback daily or weekly, and yet fewer than 30 percent receive it on a regular basis, according to another study.4

Feedback works best when it’s about specific situations and given regularly, not saved for a quarterly or annual performance review. Employees crave both recognition for good work and constructive feedback when they are struggling.

Lead by example.

Emphasize behaviors that you want to see in the people you manage. Beyond modeling basic workplace etiquette and a willingness to address challenges, your own supervisors are counting on you to reflect the company’s core mission and values.

Be positive.

No work situation is without challenges and stress. Keeping a positive outlook when problems arise helps your team focus on addressing problems, not poor morale. Projecting confidence in times of crisis isn’t just good sense—it’s a key part of the role of a manager.

Learn to delegate.

Working in teams and bouncing ideas off your peers can create high-quality work while keeping your stress levels down. Train and trust your team to take on appropriate tasks.

Know your team.

The more you know the strengths and weaknesses of the people who report to you, the better you will be able to match them with roles and responsibilities that synchronize with their interests. Knowing your co-workers on a personal level can pay huge dividends in morale—and make your own time as a leader far more enjoyable and rewarding.

Encourage others to grow.

For you to advance as a leader, you must help your team members do the same. Encourage them to take on more challenging tasks, and help them network and develop skills they will need as they grow into leadership roles of their own.5

The University of Scranton online Master of Business Administration can help you develop the ability to lead in today’s changing workplace with the values of ethics and social responsibility that are the hallmark of a Jesuit education.

To learn more about The University of Scranton’s online MBA, request more information or speak with one of our Program Managers at 866-373-9547.

SOURCES:
1 Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, “How Damaging Is a Bad Boss, Exactly?,” Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2012/07/how-damaging-is-a-bad-boss-exa
2 Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, “How Poor Leaders Become Good Leaders,” Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2013/02/how-poor-leaders-become-good-l
3 Darren Overfield and Rob Kaiser, “One Out of Every Two Managers Is Terrible at Accountability,” Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2012/11/one-out-of-every-two-managers-is-terrible-at-accountability
4 Maren Hogan, “5 Employee Feedback Stats That You Need to See,” LinkedIn Talent Blog, https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/2016/5-Employee-Feedback-Stats-That-You-Need-to-See
5 Avery Augustine, “5 Strategies That Will Turn Your Employees Into Leaders,” The Muse, https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-strategies-that-will-turn-your-employees-into-leaders