No matter what line of business you’re in, it’s likely your company is facing increased competition these days. That’s why good leadership matters so much – it can potentially be the difference between a company’s success or failure.
But what truly makes a good leader? While many people have wildly different opinions on the subject, here are six things that I believe a leader can do to make a huge difference on their company’s bottom line.
1. Make Timely Decisions
Many companies suffer under indecisive leadership. This decision vacuum often leads to employees waiting around which wastes valuable time and money. Similarly, making a decision too quickly without properly weighing its potential outcomes can also potentially waste time, effort, and resources.
The most effective leaders are those who understand that small decisions should be made quickly but can properly weigh a larger decision without getting stuck in deliberation. While you might not make the perfect decisions, these days, the most effective companies are often those that are quick to market and iterative. Your strategy can easily be adjusted or pivoted if you end up going down the wrong road.
2. Recognize Your Weaknesses
Some leaders don’t like to admit their own weaknesses. But everyone has weaknesses and the best way to ensure that they don’t affect your business’ bottom line is to be conscious of them. Knowing what your weaknesses are allows you to adjust accordingly, whether by developing in weak areas through education or practice or delegating in those areas. Just because other leaders might be good at one particular skill doesn’t mean you have to be. Your team will function optimally if the right person is doing each task.
3. Give Feedback Often
Many leaders who are unhappy with the performance of their employees don’t say anything until they become so frustrated that they either get angry or have to have a very difficult conversation with someone. But giving appropriate and compassionate feedback at a much earlier juncture could have potentially stopped the behavior or attitude and gotten the results that you wanted. It’s important that you schedule opportunities to give feedback to your direct reports throughout the year and also that you give it immediately when you notice a problem. This allows your employees to adjust quickly and better serve your company.
4. Focus on the 20%, Then Delegate
The Pareto Principle says that 80% of outcomes often come from just 20% of the things that we do. When it comes to being a good leader, it’s important that you focus the majority of your time on the 20% of your tasks that have the most return on investment. Too many people focus on the 80% of tasks while neglecting the most critical jobs. A good leader has sat down and figured out what 20% of their activities are the most effective and ensures that those are taken care of first every day. They also look for opportunities to delegate whatever they don’t specifically need to be doing. While your employees might not do the delegated jobs exactly as you would, in most cases, this isn’t critical to the success of your business. Leaders should work to build a team, and not a workforce.
5. Be Willing to Be Wrong
Many leaders are afraid of admitting that they’re wrong. This leads them to potentially miss great ideas because they are not theirs or because they might not initially agree with them. Leaders who have confidence in their own opinions but can also see the value in the opinions and ideas of others are much better able to find and promote the right products, ideas, and company practices. The most intelligent people are those who are willing to admit that they might be wrong or that someone else’s idea might be better.
6. Be Compassionate
Many leaders rule with an iron fist, yell often, and are notoriously hard on their employees. These same leaders often refused to provide flexibility for employees who are going through personal struggles. The problem with this strategy is that it often leads to low morale, a significant amount of turnover, and difficulty recruiting new employees. Your best current employees and the best job candidates will not want to work with you and they won’t have to because they have many more options. In leading with compassion and kindness, you create employees who are incredibly loyal and grateful for their jobs. That means that they will work harder for you and stay at your company longer – which will lead to much better results.