Leadership is one of the trickiest parts of effective performance in the business world. While a variety of styles can be effective, it’s almost universally an area where even a slight misstep can have unintended consequences. In my capacity as CEO of LifeWave, I’ve taken the company from an inkling of an idea to an organization of over 200 people with offices all over the world and products available in more than 80 countries. I don’t list these accomplishments to boast but, rather, to indicate that I have some perspective on what it can take to get results as a leader. I’ve condensed some of those thoughts here to help you gain insight into how to harness them for your own efforts.
Work With Your Team
Some people have an opinion of a great leader as someone who stands up on a platform and dictates orders to their team from on high. I believe that this leadership style is setting yourself up for failure for a multitude of reasons. Rather than working above our teams in that sense, we benefit greatly when we actively collaborate with our teams in a real and enduring fashion. This type of active collaboration can pay dividends in many different ways.
Perhaps the most important of these is that it shows your team members that you value their time and opinions. First and foremost, this is simply the right thing to do from an interpersonal perspective. I value everyone who works with me at LifeWave, and I’m constantly striving to ensure that I communicate that sentiment to those around me. Beyond it just being the right thing to do, this type of leadership style has the additional benefit of empowering others to be active participants in your company’s endeavors. When team members feel empowered in this way, they can contribute ideas to the organization that might end up being key to its sustained success.
Empowering your team is all well and good, but it can be all for naught if you don’t build effective communication channels within your organization. Making it easier for your team to communicate with you can allow you to get higher-quality feedback about the actions that you take as a leader. None of us hit a home run every time we’re at bat, and it’s important to recognize where we may have made a misstep when one occurs. Open communication from your team can help provide that instant feedback from some of the people most familiar with what you’re trying to accomplish.
Communication can also be important in a proactive manner. Again, in light of the familiarity that your team has with your business, some of the best ideas can come from crowdsourced brainstorming. The mark of a good leader can be how open they are to hearing those ideas and acting on them when a good one comes along.
Be Efficient With Time
In many ways, time is the most fundamental resource that a business has. The collective time of all members of a business team can be representative of the degree to which it can accomplish its goals. Leaders have a great deal of influence over how team members spend their time. If they eat up team time with unnecessary meetings or emails, a business’ accomplishments may diminish.
For this reason, it can be helpful for leaders to utilize team time in a smart and directed way. I find that it can be useful to question every “ask” for a team member’s time before making an official request. If the request feels vital to accomplishing the team’s goals, then I go forward with it. If it feels like there may be a more efficient way to accomplish that same task, I change course. The more seamlessly a leader can integrate this type of thought process into their day, the better they can use the business’ core resources in an effective manner.
This final point is certainly easier said than done, but one thing that many effective leaders have in common is their ability to inspire those around them. When we work with a leader whose vision of how the world could be can serve as motivation for us, we tend to work harder and be more directed toward achieving those goals. By contrast, if we don’t feel inspired to make a difference in our work, we may not work very hard at all. Walking that line can make all the difference as a leader.
While it’s true that effective leadership is tricky, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. The core components that I’ve listed here are just a sampling of what makes for a successful leader, but I think that they’re a great place to start. Consider ways to incorporate these tips into your own work, and see if they can help you find more success at various levels of your organization.