What makes a great leader

Great resolutions for great leaders… all year round.

A great leader has to wear many hats, and being a great leader to the people they work with is one of them. This is not an easy task. No two people are the same, and people need managing in different ways. For instance, some people prefer to micro-managed whilst others like to managed from a distance. A great leader can recognise this and can change their management style to suit, but this takes quite a bit of work and commitment.

So where do you start on your path to great leadership? Here are our suggestions based on what we know works among the great teams using Findmyshift. Consider them anytime-of-the-year resolutions because they are ones that you shouldn't break once January is over.

I will get to know my team

This means going beyond knowing their names, job title and what they do. Get to know them as a person, and discover what motivates them, what frustrates them, what they like and don’t like, and what they want to achieve in their role.

Don’t wait until the annual review to do this, as this may be too late to make a meaningful connection with your employees. Instead, consider organising informal quarterly catch-ups that are held in a relaxed environment away from their usual work space.

I will praise hard work and improvement

The importance of positive feedback should not be underestimated. Research shows that employees who are regularly praised are more motivated, engaged and committed.

Don’t go overboard and praise them every time they do something – that could start to sound insincere. But, if they have done a great job on a project, or hit a certain target, it is important that they are recognised for this.

Do remember, however, that not everyone will feel comfortable being praised in public, so consider taking them aside and saying well done in private, or leaving them a note on their desk.

I will ask for my employees’ opinions

At work, we often fall into the hierarchical structure of "managers" and "the managed", and for much of work life this is necessary in order to get the work done, but communication doesn’t have to be one way.

As you go about your work, take time to ask your employees what they think is working well (or not!) and encourage them to share their ideas for new ways of doing things. This is especially important if your employees are client- or customer-facing; they are effectively the direct messenger of customer feedback and can help you see things that you can’t and bring about changes that boost your business.

I will strive to be a better listener

If you ask for your employees’ opinions and feedback, be sure to really listen to it. Communication is a two way street, in which we give out information and receive a response. We are generally good at giving out information, but fall down when it comes to receiving feedback. This is because we are not properly listening to what is being said to us.

Being a good listener is a skill that you can learn by; letting people say everything they need to, trying to understand why they are saying it and reminding yourself that you may be able to learn something from what they saying. Your employees will also admire you for not only asking their opinion but really listening to it, and potentially acting on it too.

I will encourage my employees to succeed

Organisations that encourage entrepreneurialism in their employees are generally the most successful. Many of the world’s most popular companies to work at actively encourage their employees to seek new ways to do things, through developing new procedures or finding new ways to work that improves efficiency.

By giving people the space to develop their own working style and question the ‘norm’ they will feel motivated and empowered. Encouraging entrepreneurial thinking in your employees could benefit the whole organisation, particularly if this thinking comes up with new and improved ways to operate.

Allowing employees to act like entrepreneurs takes a lot of trust, but the rewards could be great for everyone.

About the author

Emma Saldanha is a content creator here at Findmyshift. Emma has more than 10 years experience in content creation, marketing and PR. In between writing for Findmyshift, Emma writes marketing and branding advice for small to medium business on her blog, writtenbyems. Connect with Emma on Twitter and Facebook.