Five Ways to Become a Better Leader

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When you get a MBA degree, among other topics, you’ll learn about marketing, analytics, finance, and economics. However, cross-functional knowledge is not the only thing you’ll need to succeed in the business world. Knowing how to lead effectively is an essential management skill regardless of whether you are in charge of an entire company — or just a single project.

Be Accountable

Confidence and assertiveness are positive traits. But, when assertiveness tips over into arrogance, supervisors end up blaming others for mistakes and refusing to apologize when their actions cause problems.

Failing to be accountable at the top has a ripple effect of undermining company morale, stressing employees, and hindering clear communication. True leaders admit when they are wrong and earn the respect of the whole team in the process.

Delegate Responsibility

It can be tough to let go when you are the one in charge. Knowing when to let members of your team perform the tasks for which they are trained is an essential leadership skill.

Delegating has the following positive consequences:

  • It allows you to prioritize your time and focus on confidential tasks.
  • It motivates your team.
  • It builds the team’s skill level, boosting the overall productivity of your workforce.

Cultivate the Right Leadership Style

Kurt Lewin, a psychologist, identified three main leadership styles: authoritative, democratic, and laissez-faire.

  • Authoritative leaders don’t give their workers a lot of freedom for creativity, but are good at shepherding the business in times when quick decisions are essential.
  • Democratic leaders offer guidance but always reserve the right to make the final decision. They are generally considered the most effective type of leader because they encourage input and foster good group dynamics.
  • Laissez-faire leaders don’t provide clear direction and leave subordinates to perform tasks alone. This type of leadership only works when team members are highly skilled and work best independently.

Knowing how to find the right balance in your own personal style is an important part of becoming an effective leader.

Communicate Effectively

Image via Flickr by Nguyen Vu Hung (vuhung)

Being a true leader is more than giving commands and making sure that you are heard. It also means knowing when to listen.

Empathetic listening requires honing your emotional intelligence and really paying attention to your workers’ feelings and insights. Leaders who are able to empathize and listen well inspire trust and loyalty. They also really become acquainted with the people who work for them, which can help when assigning tasks and delegating responsibilities.

Encourage Innovation

Since the global marketplace is evolving so fast, leaders can’t afford not to embrace and cultivate innovation in the workforce. A few ways leaders can help members of the team become bold thinkers include risking experimentation, taking time to reflect on the direction of the business together, and focusing on mentoring creative minds in the organization.

Do you think you have what it takes to be one of the leaders of tomorrow? Pursuing an accredited online MBA degree from a top-ranked program, like Washington State University, can teach students the skills they need to be successful in today’s competitive business world.