5 Ways to Be a Better Leader in 2022
5 Ways to Be a Better Leader in 2022
The start of a new year is upon us. If you haven’t yet, now is a good time to think about how you can be a better leader in the coming year. Not sure where to start? Here are five focus areas to consider so you and your team can be more successful.
1) Clearly articulate expectations to you and your team
If you can’t articulate expectations to yourself, then how do you think your team knows what is expected of them? Others can’t read your mind. Many leaders get frustrated because their team isn’t achieving what they want but when I dig deeper with my clients, we find they don’t really know what their expectations are or are not clearly articulating expectations and desired outcomes. This results in not fully connecting with their team. If you want to unlock your team’s potential, they need to have a solid understanding, direction and feel confidence in your leadership. By clearly articulating the expectations and values that you hold as a leader and showing how these items relate to their work and accountability measures you create more trust. Trust builds better connections with your team. The end result is an increase your team’s productivity, efficiency and morale.
2) Focus on the important stuff
It is easy to get caught up in the latest trends, the next big thing or culture buzzwords but if you are not executing on the important stuff, you won’t have a business left to run. Define your values – integrity, honesty, customer satisfaction etc. – and make sure you and your team live them every day. Be sure projects are prioritized and link to your overall strategy. Set intentions and allow yourself to be present for each action you take in the day. Check daily priorities and make sure you are focusing on the most important items that will drive success, so you don’t drain energy on unproductive and unimportant items. It is not important that you complete every item on your to do list each today, but it is important that you complete the critical path items that matter to success.
3) Close your empathy/action leadership gap
Are you a leader who listens? Does your team feel heard, seen and valued? Being empathetic is important but it is not enough just to be aware of other’s feelings and thoughts– as a leader you need to act and demonstrate you understand. You can close that gap by not interrupting others, by being present, leaving judgement behind, managing your body language and by taking a personal interest in others concerns. By acting you will earn more trust and connect better with your team.
4) Identify one skill or behavior to improve
One of the biggest obstacles to improving as a leader is that we try to take on too many things all at once and then nothing gets accomplished. When I work with my clients, we focus on improving one skill or behavior at a time that will improve their leadership. 360’s and year-end reviews may highlight 3- 5 things to work on, but my suggestion is to pick one and really focus on it. And most important is to pick the one that will have the biggest impact. Let’s look at a simple example from a leader who told me they wanted to have more energy at work. There are many ways to have more energy but thru the coaching process we identified one thing that would have the biggest impact for her– going from drinking limited water to drinking 80 oz of water each day. That is what she tracked, held herself accountable to and ultimately formed a new habit around to achieve her goal. By focusing on one thing, it had a domino effect on how she felt about herself and ultimately her energy and focus as a leader.
5) Get adequate sleep
How much sleep do you get each night? Is sleep deprivation a badge of honor to you? Maybe it is time to rethink that. Leaders who don’t get enough quality sleep impact their ability to have difficult conversations, generate new ideas and manage competing demands. Lack of sleep makes it more difficult to connect with others and may cause you to become more easily frustrated and irritable. A 2017 study by the Center for Creative Leadership found among leaders almost half are getting six or fewer hours of sleep a night. According to the article Sleep Well, Lead Better by Christopher M. Barnes for the leaders that do get adequate sleep the upside is great because it helps you store information better, process emotional experiences, clear out brain waste that disrupts cognitive activity, gives you a greater ability to inspire and motive others around you and create a better overall team dynamic.
Do a personal assessment of these five areas. If you were to focus on just one, which would have the biggest impact on your leadership, your team and overall success? Where would your direct reports or boss recommend you focus? It’s tempting to say you want to tackle them all but don’t. It takes on average 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. Take them in a sequential approach so you can apply the appropriate focus and achieve great results. When you focus on one thing and do it well you tend to bring other areas along with it. If you get started today by this time next year you will be a more effective leader.
Jill Bornstein is the Founder of Upnext Leadership Coaching and an ICF ACC Executive Coach. She focuses on developing high potentials, new leaders and entrepreneurs so they can get unstuck and soar to success.