When doing research on what sales leaders were looking for support with, we realized there isn’t a lot of information out there on how to be a better leader. Yes, we know there are plenty of resources stating that if you want to be a better leader, you should be: passionate, motivational, positive, encouraging… But what are the tangible steps you should take to be a better leader?
We spoke to some of our team’s most respected leaders to understand the steps they’ve taken to become the leaders they are today. With over 30 years of leadership experience between the five of them, overseeing mostly small and mid-sized teams, these individuals have made a huge effort at connecting with their direct reports in order to maintain happy and productive teams. We gathered some of their best advice for becoming a better leader.
What qualities does a good leader have?
To start, the qualities a good leader has are deeper than patience, integrity, humility, and creativity (although, it wouldn’t hurt to possess these qualities).
As a good leader, you should…
- Hold yourself accountable, in addition to your team. Take responsibility for your actions and don’t blame others.
- Communicate effectively and often.
- Be a people person. Leaders who love people tend to seem most at home in their roles, lifting others up and actively working for the team’s best interests.
- Possess a genuine positivity to your organization’s cause.
- Be optimistically realistic and create positive and sustainable plans for growth.
- Create a space for people to be nurtured to grow and develop.
What’s the best piece of leadership advice you have ever received?
Our mentors can be very influential and our experience with different leaders throughout our lives shape how we rise to the occasion when there are new leadership roles to fill. The advice we receive from the leaders we look up to is invaluable.
We asked our panel of leaders to share with us their best-kept secrets when it comes to leadership. Every good leader has (or should have) a previous leader they look to for guidance when it comes to the type of leader they want to be. Here is some of the best leadership advice we’ve received:
- Never lead your team to do something you wouldn’t do.
- Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty; lead by example.
- No matter how much you achieve, never stop learning.
- Let your team take ownership of things to take ownership of their growth and development instead of relying on being told what to do.
- Exclude “I” from your vocabulary. Removing “I” changes the context of conversations and allows team members to focus on solutions.
What’s the worst thing you could do as a leader?
“Admittedly, it’s a lofty goal to keep everyone on the same page at all times – but it’s also an important one. Communication is the lifeblood of any team and good leaders are responsible for ensuring it’s flowing smoothly.”
– Colton Lewis, Product Manager
Leadership often involves a lot of trial and error; it’s hard to know how to be a successful leader because the definition is constantly changing and it’s entirely dependent on how your team operates. However, bad leadership is out there.
We don’t want to dive too deeply into the negative side of leadership, but based on our feedback, here are some of the worst things to do as a leader:
- Ignore your team’s requests.
- Not give your team the room to grow—or opportunity to fail.
- Lack self-awareness.
- Starve your team of communication.
- Not let things go.
What’s something to improve on when leading?
Any quality leader can (and should be able to) recognize their own faults and identify areas for improvement. We asked our team how they felt they could improve as leaders, and now we’re passing their advice on to you.
As a leader, you…
- Should raise suspected concerns early and solve them as a team.
- Cannot and should not do everything.
- Should ask better questions to understand others.
- Need to understand that not everyone is you—they don’t work like you, think like you, they don’t have the same experience; you simply can’t expect you from others.
- Have to consistently take care of yourself, physically and mentally.
Learn how to be a better leader by leading your team
“Having a learning mindset in leadership not only helps you grow as an individual, but it can also help you grow your team. It’s hard to fill a cup that’s already full.”
– Ashna Patel, Manager, Customer Success & Support
A great leader understands that the work to become a better leader is never truly done. You can read all the help articles, books, and blogs like this you want, but the best learning lessons come from your day-to-day experiences leading your team.
Finally, we asked our leaders to pass on something they have learned from their team that has adjusted the way they lead. Here’s what they said:
- Over-communication is never a bad thing.
- Providing an opportunity to share ideas amongst the team can result in net gains.
- It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” You don’t need to know the answer to everything. What’s more important is that you acknowledge not knowing and help try to find the answers.
- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share the sides of you outside of work.
- No two people are alike, so your ways of managing and interacting with each team member have to be different in order to cultivate the best relationship with each individual.
- Be your team’s biggest fan. Each member is a specialist in their given field and watching them apply their knowledge with confidence pushes a good leader to be better.
It can be argued that there are many natural-born leaders in the world, but for most great leaders, it takes years of experience and self-work. We hope you learned some tangible steps you can take to become a better leader. If you read this blog, you already took the first- the desire to learn.