Most entrepreneurs start their company because they love what they do and become people managers somewhere along the way. While you may be an expert on your business’s products or services, you probably haven’t received much training on how to be an effective leader.
Investing the time and effort to become a better manager is a pursuit that’s well worth the effort. You wouldn’t need to look far to see examples of how the attitudes and actions of the people in charge can make or break their organizations. Being an executive means that others are relying on you for guidance and support.
The best way to increase your team’s efficiency and productivity is to become a more effective leader. Start by focusing on these eight key areas.
1. Communicate Your Vision
Your employees will be more motivated and unified if everyone is working towards a common purpose. If you don’t currently have a strong, authentic mission statement, spend some time defining your “why”. Think about your organization’s core purpose. What values do you want to see reflected in your business?
Then take this vision and share it with your team. You should consider how you can incorporate your values into the way your organization operates. Putting your “why” into action enables you to attract and retain employees who believe in your core mission. When communicated effectively, your vision can also be a powerful marketing tool that helps you reach like-minded clients.
2. Delegate Effectively
As a manager, aligning people and resources with your organization’s goals is one of your most important responsibilities. An effective leader hires a capable team to support them and trusts their employees to handle important responsibilities. To create time to plan and strategize, you need to routinely delegate other tasks to your team.
When you distribute work effectively, you increase your own productivity while developing your employees’ skill sets. Most of your team members want opportunities to grow and advance, and the best way to learn a new role is by doing. Make delegating appropriate responsibilities a key component of your employee development plans.
3. Stay Connected With Your Employees
Regardless of your industry, people are a core part of your business. Employees need to feel that their managers respect them and are open to their ideas. While you may have many competing priorities, remember that being an effective leader means staying connected with your team.
Block off time in your schedule to have conversations with your employees, especially those who interact directly with your customers. Their perspectives will help keep you informed of the everyday challenges and opportunities in your business. When you communicate with your team, encourage them to ask questions and give you feedback to ensure they are getting all of the information they need to be effective.
4. Develop A Positive Work Environment
While you probably know that retaining good employees is far more cost-efficient than replacing them, you may not have a plan to encourage top talent to stick with your company. Start by creating a workplace where your team feels appreciated. When someone is doing a good job, make sure you recognize their contributions.
Implement a figurative “open door” policy so your team knows they can approach you with important issues, questions or concerns. Encourage your staff to tell you what they need, whether that’s additional resources, more flexibility or just a day off. When you make an effort to show your employees that you appreciate and value them, they will be more engaged and productive at work and you will be a more effective leader.
5. Take Control Of Your Schedule
Get more done by being proactive with your schedule. Many managers accept too many invitations and become frustrated when unexpected challenges crop up. Resist the urge to book or double-book every slot on your calendar. Your schedule should reflect your priorities, rather than external influences.
As an effective leader, you need to create time to plan and strategize. Move away from a long to-do list and focus on a few must-do items instead. Maximize your time by creating blocks on your calendar to work on the projects that will advance your goals.
To build a purpose-driven schedule, start by penciling in your must-do activities. Then add in flexible time blocks for networking, communication and planning. Remember to include space for activities that are essential to your personal health and wellness, so you will be better prepared to take on any challenges.
6. Think Long-Term
A significant part of your role as a leader is to provide guidance when problems arise. With an increased focus on quarterly returns and monthly sales targets, many managers look for the quickest, easiest solutions to their organization’s issues. It can be tempting to put out your immediate fires and move on.
An effective leader, however, considers how the decisions they make today will impact their business in the long-term. When you have a challenge in your organization, invest the time to understand what is causing that issue. You may find that, while it takes longer to thoroughly evaluate a situation, developing a thoughtful solution prevents similar problems in the future.
7. Prioritize Results
You need to make decisions every day about how to best allocate your organization’s resources. While your team engages in several different activities, there is a strong probability that a few of these tasks produce much more significant results for your organization than the others. Focus on your business’s core operations, those activities that have the largest impact on your bottom line.
As a leader, you should ensure all your employees understand how their work contributes to your organization’s key objectives. Make evaluating their personal results a central component in your performance review process. While it’s important to identify opportunities for improvement, remember to recognize and reward the top performers who are critical to your success.
Apply the same principles when assessing your operations. Concentrate on making the processes and systems that affect your most profitable products or services as efficient as possible. Use your mission statement to guide your decision-making, and prioritize what is most impactful for your business.
8. Create Opportunities To Learn And Grow
Great leaders understand the need to continually evolve. Whether you are interested in learning more about emerging markets or looking for new ways to enhance a current product, actively seek out opportunities to grow and develop both personally and professionally. Adopt an always-learning mentality, and encourage others on your team to do so as well.
To foster growth and innovation, create opportunities for your employees to teach and learn. Encourage your senior staff to mentor their more junior counterparts. Depending on your team’s skills and your budget, organize relevant training hosted by experienced employees or outside experts. You may also want to consider creating a training and development budget so that your employees can pursue opportunities that interest them.
Remember that as a leader, your employees are looking to you to set an example. When you create a cooperative work environment and model good decision-making skills, you empower your employees to be more engaged, productive and successful. Focus on providing consistent, forward-thinking leadership, and watch your company thrive.
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