Have you ever met a leader who insists they would be better if only their team was better? Maybe they blame their employees for their own failures or refuse to see their own shortcomings. It’s easier to look outside ourselves than turning inward and doing the hard work of self-improvement. It’s not always pleasant realizing we could do better.
The best leaders never stop learning and growing. They don’t let the discomfort of facing their own imperfections hold them back from leveling up their leadership skills. If you’re willing to get introspective, you can use your intuition to guide you. If you’re willing to make changes, you’ll learn to tackle problems faster and more efficiently. And, if you’re willing to listen, you just may discover what your team really needs from you.
Below are my top tips for upping your leadership skills if you’re ready to:
- solve problems faster,
- tap into your intuition,
- and gain a better understanding of what others need from you.
1. Harness Your Intuition to Make Smart Business Decisions
Rick Snyder, intuitive leadership consultant says, “Intuition is our deeper intelligence that is able to read the room or the marketplace, make decisions from a wiser resource, and extract data faster than the conscious mind can analyze.” When we integrate our intuition with critical thinking, we have a recipe for success. Listening to our gut can help us determine whether to move forward with a particular business decision or pump the breaks on a product launch that feels “off.” You can harness your inner guidance system by being still and present in the moment. Listen to your breathing and allow your inner voice to be heard.
2. Improve Your Interpersonal Skills
Have you ever met someone that rubbed you the wrong way or gave you a bad vibe? Trusting our inner feelings can also help us read other people (especially their nonverbal cues), understand their needs, and connect on a deeper level. Our emotional intelligence can help us read the room during a presentation and pivot when things aren’t going well. When you’re open, you will find yourself picking up on body language. As you become more sensitive to nonverbal communication and social dynamics, you may find yourself seeing others in a new light and relating in new ways.
3. Tackle Problems with Clarity
We all run into issues at work: miscommunications with our team, missed sales goals, typos in emails, incorrect reports, missed deadlines, failed product launches, or pressure from higher ups. The first step to tackling problems faster is to clearly identify the problem. Pretty obvious, right? But are you sure your problem is well-defined? Let’s take a look at some of the examples. How do you know your reports are incorrect? What kind of pressure are you feeling from your higher ups? Break down the problem and get as specific as possible. By understanding the issue, you may find the solution is in the problem. Maybe the typos in your emails always occur when you’re sending them from your phone. It’s simple enough to send emails from your computer instead.
4. Get to the Bottom of Bigger Issues
You can’t solve a problem until you understand what’s going wrong and why. Once you’ve identified the problem, it’s time to get to the root of it. Tracing an issue down to its cause will answer the question, “Why is this happening?” Not every problem has a simple solution like in the case of email typos when sent via phone. Pressure from higher ups can come in many forms (that’s why it’s important to specifically identify what kind of pressure you’re feeling) and for many different reasons. Once you understand the why, you can determine the steps you need to take to start fixing the issue.
5. Seek Real Connection
It can be difficult to connect meaningfully to others when you’re in a leadership position. You want to maintain authority and not be overly-familiar. But you still crave understanding and being understood. The distance can feel alienating. How can you understand how to help your employees if you’re not forming meaningful connections with them? The best way to get to know others is by giving them your time. If you’re used to only quick run-ins in the hallways, it’s time to devote some of your time and energy to truly getting to know the people you’re serving.
“A great leader imagines how things look through others’ unique lenses.”
6. Don’t Be Quick to Judge
It’s easy to jump to judgment. He keeps messing up. He’s lazy. She’s always late. She just doesn’t care. Drop the assumptions. I’m an intensely curious person. Even if someone rubs me the wrong way right off the bat, I still want to get to know them, understand them, and know what makes them the way they are. We’re all the products of our environment, experiences, beliefs. Never assume people are just like you and see things the way you do. I like strengthening my empathy muscle by suspending judgment. When I understand people better, I can consider their perspective. A great leader imagines how things look through others’ unique lenses.
7. Listen Fully
If you want to know what people need from you, listen. Be present. Pay attention. Reflect what they’re saying back to them to ensure you are fully understanding. Ask clarifying questions. Put down your phone, close your laptop, and focus on what the other person is sharing with you. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. A simple pause before you answer not only gives you time to process, it shows the other person you’re considering what they said and respecting their point of view. On the other hand, interrupting or talking over the other person shows you’re more concerned with your agenda than anything they have to say.
These are just a few ways to become a better leader that have resonated and helped me. No matter where we are on our journey, we can all benefit from better problem-solving, interpersonal, and intuitive skills. Do you have any special ways to tackle big problems? Maybe you’ve recently experienced your intuition leading you in a new direction. What are your favorite tips for establishing meaningful relationships at work? I’d love to hear what you have to share in the comments below.
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