If you ask 100 people what makes a good leader, chances are you'll get 100 different answers. Being a successful leader can often mean a variety of things in various industries. In the communication profession, there are a multitude of ways leaders can find favor with their employees and significantly improve company productivity.
Although I'm young in my career, only out of college a year, I've already had the privilege of working under some of the greatest leaders in my industry. While working with great leadership, I've had the chance to examine leadership styles on many levels and for various organizations I've worked with and/or represented. In this experience, I've been able to observe and determine things that successful leaders do and what others don't. While good leaders exhibit an array of excellent habits, I want to discuss three things that I think have had the most significant impact on my career thus far.
The first thing that I've found that most successful leaders do is pour education and professional development into their employees. I am fortunate enough to work for leaders that emphasize professional development and continuous learning throughout your career. Through this, I am able to become a more well-rounded employee and provide higher quality work for my agency. Some leaders neglect professional development and, in turn, deprive themselves and their organization of maximizing employee potential. A few ways that I've seen this successfully done is by setting aside an hour a week for your employees to participate in professional development, work to find webinars or books that would empower your team and continuously push your employees beyond what they believe they're capable of.
Secondly, I've found that the best leaders I've worked for were always on the lookout for a "teachable moment." As human beings, life isn't about if we are going to make a mistake, but more about when we make a mistake. Since mistakes are an inevitable part of life and our careers, good leaders find these moments as a chance to show their employees how they can improve. All too often, superiors want to reprimand their subordinates for mistakes made instead of taking the time to talk through the mistake and use it as a learning opportunity. For example, if an employee submits a project that you think missed the mark, take a moment to sit with them and explain what they did right and what areas could be an opportunity to learn while also providing the information they need to ensure success in the future.
Lastly, a good leader is someone who shows that they genuinely appreciate their employees. Unfortunately, there are many leaders out there who are far more interested in their employees earning them a dollar than making sure they are doing well mentally and feel fulfilled in their careers. As an employee, I have found that when I feel appreciated in the workplace, I am far more motivated and want to make sure I am doing my best for my organization. It doesn't take much and the best leaders out there always find a way to show their employees how much they're appreciated. For example, when an employee goes above and beyond, give them a shout out at your next all-staff meeting, write out a thank you note or buy lunch for the staff if they've had an exceptional week.
As I mentioned before, there are a multitude of ways to be a good leader but there are certain things that are sure to stick out to your employees more than others. Next time you're brainstorming ideas to improve your leadership skills, give these three tips a try and see how it improves your employee/manager relationships and overall company culture.