How to be a better leader

“I’m really tired of all these articles and books telling us what to do to be great leaders. I already know and agree with what they’re saying. I should empower my people, take risks, have a vision, deliver results, be accountable, be service-driven, not ego-driven, etc. etc. etc. I have an MBA and I’ve been to leadership training programmes. It’s just not that easy to do.”

Does that sound a bit like you? You want your team to be great and you understand that the effectiveness of your team depends on the effectiveness of your leadership. So why does it sometimes seem so hard to put into practice?

Your frustration is understandable. Sometimes the issue is that the environment or culture of the company, the economy or the world at large do not support great leadership. But great leadership does emerge in some pretty dismal environments. So blaming it on the environment doesn’t entirely explain why we can sometimes have so much difficulty doing the things we know we are supposed to do.

You are working hard to do the right things, but it isn’t having the impact you hoped for. What you don’t realise is that your unexamined beliefs and assumptions below the surface are pulling you in a different direction.

These questions can help surface your self-limiting beliefs and assumptions:

What do you believe will happen if you let go of control?

When you have basic trust in the potential of others, you naturally stop trying to control all the details and delegating comes naturally. Leaders of great teams have enthusiasm and positive regard for others. They create opportunities for their people to stretch themselves and assume responsibility.

“When people are placed in positions slightly above what they expect, they are apt to excel.” ~Richard Branson

Do you approach mistakes with the question, “What can I learn?” or with the question “Who is to blame?”

Basic trust allows you to take risks. When something goes wrong, it’s not a crisis, it’s a learning opportunity and an investment in your future. Leaders of great teams admit their mistakes, take responsibility for the impact, and learn so they don’t repeat the same mistake.

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It’s best to admit them quickly & get on with improving your other innovations.” ~Steve Jobs

What is so important to you that you are willing to take a stand for it?

When you know what you hold most dear, you can live your life consistently according to those values. Leaders of great teams have unswerving commitment to what they believe in. Their consistency not only creates confidence and trust in their followers, but sets a standard for them as well.

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” ~Alexander Hamilton

What standards do you set for yourself? When you have a choice, do you take the easy road or the more challenging one?

Leaders of great teams are not content with the status quo. They expect more of themselves and set challenging goals that result in more impressive achievements.

“Always shoot for the bulls-eye. If you miss, at least you’ll hit the target.” ~Don Shula

Do you want your team to be great or just get the job done?

The truth is your team can only be as great as you believe it can be. Your vision for your team arises from your own character, motives and beliefs. Your expectations for your team are a reflection of your expectations for yourself.

When you remove your self-imposed limitations and beliefs, the possibilities for yourself and your team expand exponentially.

Have you uncovered some of your self-limiting beliefs? What questions helped surface them? Share your learning with us here…

Adapted from an original article by Jesse Lyn Stoner, with thanks.