4 Signs You Need to Step Up Your Leadership Style

by Edgar R. Olivo

Leadership is an interesting skill that requires thoughtful reflection and constant refinement. At the start of each year, team leaders benefit from taking a moment to reflect on where they can improve their leadership style. Unfortunately, there are times when a manager or boss is simply a bad leader. Maybe they had bad mentors, or they picked up contradictory habits. Maybe they have not had the necessary experience to understand their vital role and how best to accomplish it. Whatever the case, recognizing that leadership skills can improve is the first step toward making impactful changes.

Becoming a better leader requires you to analyze and accept where your leadership style falls short. And developing your personal leadership style does not need to wait until you are promoted with a fancy title. Wherever you are in your career, you can cultivate the essential habit of self-awareness. Strong leadership is a lifelong pursuit that requires continuous evaluation and improvement.

The process of finding a style will look different for everyone, but here are four key warning signs to look for to make sure you are developing an approach that is true to you and beneficial to your team.

  1. You do not know who your team members are as people. Your workers are human beings with diverse backgrounds, experiences and skills. Getting to know your team and uncovering what makes them happy or sad will help any leader create deeper connections. Taking the time to get to know each team member will help any leader understand their needs better, especially in today’s world where remote work has increased productivity while simultaneously eroding other areas of human connection.
  2. You do not understand the real reason why your team is struggling with their tasks. Avoiding problems and conflict is a natural response for people, especially in remote work environments. It is challenging to have difficult conversations with your team, but it is necessary to overcome communication barriers. Active listening, also called attentive listening, is a lost art. People think they are listening when they are conversing with other people. But most of the time, people do not truly listen. At least not with their full, undivided attention. Active listening or attentive listening is defined by the ability to focus solely on the conversational partner. Leaders who practice active listening can pick up direct and subtle cues to help their team accomplish more.
  3. You want your staff to be just like you. There is no cookie-cutter way to replicate success within a team, but it is possible. Good leadership is the ability to blend diverse skills and align them toward a common objective. Accepting that not everyone works the same way and taking the time to understand the team’s skills gaps will help a leader go a long way.
  4. You do not know what leadership means and how it applies to your work. On occasions, leaders who ascend to important titles arrive at leadership roles without any knowledge of how they got there. That is normal, and it probably means there are natural leadership skills that have yet to be discovered. Exercising mindfulness throughout a career journey is a great way to take inventory of the lessons learned along the way that are unique to you and your leadership style. It also helps you realize where you have room to grow.

Leaders are in a position to influence a positive work environment and design what is acceptable for the team. Getting involved in the everyday activities that weigh down leaders can hurt the team in ways that may seem mysterious, but really are opportunities to improve in any area. As a great leader, you should always pay attention to the signs where you can level up your leadership style.

EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor, and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.

Para la versión en español de este artículo, haga clic aquí.

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