How to Become a Better Leader

In the workforce, leadership roles carry a responsibility for those individuals in those positions to be the best they can be, as managers account for a 70% variance in whether workers engage in their work. Employees want to know they’re valued by their supervisors. Additionally, the behavior of a leader often sets the tone for behaviors throughout an organization.

That means a mindset of continual improvement is a must. Here are three actionable tips for becoming a better leader.

1. Put the needs of others first

The Marines believe that a key attribute of an effective leader is the willingness to put the needs of others before your own. This simple idea can be a powerful driver of loyalty and dedication to the cause of an organization, whether that’s a Marine Corps unit or your small business. When employees feel valued, especially by their leaders, they are often willing to give more in return, putting in the hard work and time needed for a business to succeed.

For a small business, this could mean paying your employees a slightly higher wage at the expense of your own or offering some extra perks and benefits. Or it may mean working longer hours so employees with young kids can get home in time for dinner. By showing that you value your staff and put them first, these small gestures can lead to a long-term gain in employee loyalty and productivity.

2. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong

Many leaders feel that admitting they’ve made a mistake shows weakness to employees and can undermine their authority. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Allowing yourself to be accountable to employees for the mistakes you’ll inevitably make is a way to improve engagement with—and earn the respect of—employees and peers.

Rather than showing weakness, accepting and admitting when you’re wrong actually shows staff that you’re willing to do what’s best for the organization rather than yourself. It also demonstrates a willingness to learn and grow—both critical for leadership and business. And when the leadership demonstrates these traits, it often trickles down throughout an organization.

3. Seek out feedback and accept it gracefully

A related skill is accepting feedback constructively. This is difficult for many people, whether they’re leaders or not. But it’s also a vital skill for growth. Feedback is both valuable and inevitable in business, and seeking it demonstrates to your staff that you value their input.

An easy way to implement this would be to send out periodic check-ins to staff and customers. This check-in could be as simple as an email asking how you’re doing and what you could do better. When you get the responses, take the time to read them, identify the valid points, and implement a plan of action to address them. Bonus points for sharing that action plan with staff.

Handling constructive feedback is an important skill for all levels of employee and can even be beneficial to include in your employee training program—helping your employees to have open communication with you as soon as they start. Opening that dialog from your side can also give you the opportunity to lead by example.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of a company or the senior member of a team—if you’re in a position of leadership, your attitude and actions set the tone for those around you. Implement these tips to become a better leader today.

RaShea Drake lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she has worked with businesses large and small. She’s helped improve marketing efforts, revamped team communications, and effectively lead teams to meet tough goals and deadlines. You can find more of her writings on Twitter, she’d love to hear from you.