24 Tips For Becoming a Better Leader

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 13, 2022

Published November 5, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A leader is an individual who takes on the responsibility of managing others with the goal of achieving success. In a workplace, it’s common for employees to look to their leaders for guidance, approval and career advancement. If you want to be a better leader, it’s important that you understand the role you play in your staff’s lives and strive to provide them with what they need and expect from you. 

In this article, we define what a leader is and provide 24 helpful tips you can use to improve your leadership skills and succeed to your highest potential in a management-like position. 

What is a leader?

A leader is an individual who has additional responsibilities in a collaborative environment and serves as a resource to their team or staff in times of need. You can use both natural talent and learned skills to improve your leadership abilities, meaning that everyone has the capacity to become a leader. As the head of a project, department or workplace, it’s important that people with leadership assignments have the proper set of skills necessary to relate with and inspire others to excel in their work. 

Leaders can take many forms and may have a wide array of responsibilities. In an office, retail or hospitality environment, a manager usually serves in a leadership role. In some settings, there may be multiple leaders at different levels, such as in academia, where department heads oversee day-to-day duties while deans, presidents and principals serve as the top leadership figure. Some common examples of leadership skills include:

  • Communication

  • Attention to detail

  • Organization

  • Problem solving

  • Empathy

  • Adaptability

  • Positivity

  • Productivity

  • Time Management

Related: What Is Charismatic Leadership? (Plus 10 Traits of Charismatic Leaders)

How to be a better leader

Every leader wants to continue to find success in their role. Here are ways you can be a better leader:

1. Encourage autonomy

Employees appreciate having autonomy in their work. When you can provide this as a leader, the employees know that you trust the quality of their work, their time management skills and their ability to find the resources they need to complete their tasks. Autonomy also encourages your team to work among themselves and get creative when needing to solve a problem, which can be highly motivating and encouraging.

2. Realize that you're a role model in the office

As a leader, you also take on the position of role model in the workplace. Remember this responsibility, as it should influence how you act in the office. To be a great role model, make sure to hold yourself to the same standards as you do your team members, practice accountability for yourself and your employees and live the company values.

Related: 5 Key Traits of a Learning Leader (And Why They’re Important)

3. Adapt your leadership style to the individual

Every leader has an overarching leadership style that drives how they manage their team. While it's important to be well aware of your style, it's also crucial that you be able to adapt it to meet the needs of your individual employees. When you can adapt to your employees or different circumstances, you'll be better able to solve issues and relate to the people you manage.

Read more: 10 Common Leadership Styles (Plus How To Find Your Own)

4. Recognize and reward your employees

Be quick to recognize your employees for a job well done. You could also consider implementing a reward system for certain tasks, like completing a project before the deadline or working together to solve a problem. Giving recognition shows your employees that you're aware of what they are working on and appreciate their hard work, diligence and loyalty to their position.

5. Admit to mistakes

Nobody is perfect, and leaders will be able to lead better if they admit to their mistakes. This action positively affects you and your team. It's important that your team know that you don't believe you have all the answers or that you never have errors. Also, when you can admit your mistakes, you give your employees the freedom to do the same as long as they take it as a learning opportunity.

Related: What Is an Industry Leader? (And How To Become One)

6. Keep your emotions in check

As a leader, it's easy to get caught up in your team's mistakes and successes, and let your emotions take charge. Try to keep a level head so that, with mistakes, you don't rush to incorrect conclusions, and with successes, you don't jump ahead when your team isn't ready or start making irrational decisions.

7. Tune into each employee's strengths and capabilities

Even when an employee is excelling in their role, they may still have untapped talents. Try to meet with each employee to learn more about their interests and strengths so you can make sure to utilize them to their full potential. It's common for an employee to feel frustrated in the workplace if they know they have a lot more to offer, but few opportunities to showcase their work.

Related: How To Become an Effective Thought Leader in 7 Steps

8. Consider yourself part of the team

Instead of taking a leadership stance 100% of the time, think of yourself as one of your employees. Look at things from their perspective, contribute to the team and celebrate wins right alongside them. Employees are more likely to trust you and your leadership when they feel you want what's best for the group and are tuned in to how everyone interacts with each other.

9. Invest in your people

It's really important to invest in your team. Make sure they get appropriate training and have the resources they need to do their job well. Encourage them to attend conferences and seminars with like-minded individuals in the same industry so they can learn from others. Let your employees know that you are always open to hearing what they need so you can provide it to them. If you invest in your team, they may be more likely to be long-term hires.

Related: Why Should I Be a Team Leader? (Pros of the Position)

10. Place trust in your team

If you trust your team, you should receive trust back from them. Many professionals worked hard to be at this point in their career, so trust that they have the experience, skills and interest to succeed. Ensure your team that you're there if they need you, but that you will rely on them and trust they'll complete their work. If you micromanage or question your team's work ethic too harshly, it can lead to distrust that's hard to reverse.

11. Bond with employees individually and as a group

A great leader is able to form a bond with their team. Explore ways to bond with the group and each individual. You can do this by:

  • Asking employees about themselves

  • Taking the group on team-building activities

  • Completing workplace assessments and sharing the results with each other

  • Developing a themed day of the week where everyone can have some fun at work

12. Be selective when building your team

Because your teams works together each day, their dynamic is important. When making hiring decisions, think about everyone's personality and workplace strengths. You’d likely rather hire someone who will fit in well with the group and help the team succeed over an individual with years of experience, but who is fundamentally against everything your organization stands for.

13. Identify and provide the resources your team needs

In order to succeed, an employee needs to have the appropriate equipment and resources at their disposal. Without them, a team member can easily feel left out and unaccomplished. Make sure that new hires have a computer and basic office items on their first day of work, and purchase the programs that your lead graphic designer needs to do their job well. Being mindful of your employees' needs is courteous and respectful.

Related: 5 Ways To Stand Out as a Team Leader at Work

14. Establish a work-life balance

Many leaders encourage their employees to establish a work-life balance, but fail to make one for themselves. However, stepping away from work can be refreshing and give you the chance to come back to the office with a fresh perspective. Too much time at work can actually hinder your performance and keep you from making the most logical choices. To have a work-life balance, try to start and end your work day at the same time and establish boundaries with your colleagues.

15. Be able to pivot

Being a leader means having the ability to change direction if the unexpected happens. You may experience anything from an employee quitting without notice to a project running over budget. In any number of scenarios, you may have to make quick decisions on the best way to move forward. It's also important to know when you need to change direction. For example, if a new process isn't working, you have to know when it's time to try something new to prevent spending more unnecessary time doing something that doesn't yield results.

16. Accept failure

It may be second nature to avoid failure and instead, do everything in your power to make a project a huge success without any issues along the way. However, failure is a part of growing in your role and helping your employees grow in theirs. It's great to want success, but it's also okay to know that not everything is going to work out well.

17. Make hiring decisions based on someone's potential

As you're completing a hiring process, ask yourself about a candidate's potential. For example, you may interview two individuals, one who seems stuck in their ways, and another who shows their willingness to learn and take on new tasks. You may see one of your applicants as wanting to do what's for the greater good of the team while another may remain stagnant for the duration of their employment.

Related: 8 Helpful Tips For Hiring Successful Remote Employees

18. Embrace conflict

Conflict in the workplace is normal, and you shouldn't shy away from it. Healthy conflict can actually contribute to a goal-oriented and positive environment because employees come to understand each other more, learn from one another and become unafraid to express their opinions.

19. Don't hesitate to let someone go

One of the hardest parts of your job as a leader is having to let employees go. Just like you should know when it's time to pivot, so too should you evaluate when it's time to dismiss an employee from their position. The reason for this is that one employee on the team who either has a negative attitude or isn't completing their work can have a large impact on the team.If you want to have a team who gets along well, works together and wants to meet goals as a group, then an employee who keeps them from that is no longer a good fit.

Related: Termination vs. Resignation: Definitions and Differences

20. Host brainstorming sessions

All employees have opinions and ideas and it's the job of a leader to encourage them to share what they're thinking. Host regular brainstorming lessons in the workplace or in a creative space outside of the office. Set ground rules and let the team know that you want to hear all of their ideas, not just the ones that the employee feels the most confidence in.

Read more: 6 Steps for Running an Effective Brainstorming Session

21. Encourage creativity

A person's creativity is a way for them to express themselves in the workplace, which can benefit the entire team. Creativity can also introduce new ways of thinking.

22. Take time when promoting employees

As a leader, you have the rewarding opportunity to promote your employees. While one employee may seem like they are ready for the next step, take a moment to truly evaluate if that's the case. An employee who is promoted too early can risk becoming overstressed, whereas an employee who earns a promotion after they've had relevant training or have gone through a mentorship program can truly excel in their new position.

23. Form relationships with your peers at work

Especially if your organization does not approve of leaders fraternizing with their employees, you may feel somewhat alone in your role. However, the other leaders at your organization are in the same position as you. Get to know them so you can form your own network and share ideas and tips for managing a team.

Read more: 14 Ways To Make Friends at Work (And How To Do So Professionally)

24. Deal with the hardest leadership tasks first

Your day-to-day responsibilities probably consist of making a lot of decisions. If possible, start with the hardest one first. The hardest challenge is usually the one that is creating the biggest discord in the team. If you handle that one first, it'll open the door to taking on more.

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