Great leaders are not born. They are chiseled and molded into what they are. They are forged through trial and error while learning from their mistakes and improving upon their downfalls. An amazing leader does not become an amazing leader overnight. It takes time. For anyone with an eye towards management and a passion to lead, there are areas to focus on and strive for perfection. To become the leader, an individual dreams of becoming, continually improving in every way possible is a must. Here are 27 management tips that will help improve a person’s ability and turn them into an amazing leader.
1. Value the People Around
“You can find anyone that will tell you what you want to here, but the only one worth valuing is the one that tells you what you need to learn.” - Shannon L Alder
Everyone deserves to be valued for what they do for a business. As soon as an employee fails to feel valued, their desire to put in quality work begins to diminish. Why should an employee work hard if what they do isn’t appreciated? The lack of value increases the chance of a worker looking elsewhere for employment. An excellent boss understands the importance of the people around them and demonstrates their appreciation. Of course, if there are employees not carrying their weight or doing their job, it is the responsibility of a quality leader to look for replacements.
2. Student and Master
“The master had failed more times than the beginner has ever tried.” – Stephen McCranie
An amazing leader is both student and master at once. Employees look to a quality leader for advice and guidance. They too should want to improve their own professional careers, which means they will want to learn anything and everything they can. A quality leader obtains their role not only because of their people skills and ability to politic for the position but because they have experience in most areas of the company. They understand how it works and likely held many of the jobs newer employees now hold. Employees should be able to come to a boss for assistance and guidance and, in return, should receive it. If an employee seeks out a boss, it means they care about their job and want to put in the best work possible.
On the other end, an amazing leader needs to always remain a student. They need to look for ways to improve upon themselves and to learn as there is always something a leader can improve upon. From expanding their knowledge on a certain subject to learning new ways to handle situations within the company, the very best leaders remain both student and master, all at the same time.
3. Stay Positive
“Your positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.” – Shiv Khera
Staying positive is important not only for a boss but for his or her team. Subordinates in any manner will struggle following someone who doesn’t have a positive outlook. There will be times where the outcome is uncertain or even in doubt. This is when staying positive and confident may prove vital. Even if the leader has doubts, these doubts, and second-guessing needs to remain behind closed doors. If a leader openly questions his or her decisions it results in a negative attitude within employees and their own confidence in the boss will eventually crack and falter.
Some struggle with remaining confident while others may continually question their decisions simply by nature. One of the most important lessons a potentially great leader can take to heart is, if they are not confident in a certain situation, to simply fake it. Over time, a boss faking their confidence will, eventually, forget they are faking it and simply be confident. A strong demeanor while remaining confident has the ability to rub off and affect many of the other tips to becoming a strong, respected and amazing leader. As the great novelist Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Keep your fears to yourself but share your courage with others.”
4. Stay Strong
“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” – Bruce Lee
Both staying strong and staying positive are directly related. In fact, demonstrating one trait affects the other. Remaining positive and confident helps boost the confidence of employees while helping them avoid negativity. Likewise, a strong leader instills confidence and dedication into workers. Most people, regardless of industry or line of work, struggle following a leader who doesn’t believe in themselves. If a leader is timid in their decision-making, it negatively affects not only the boss but the employees as well. Amazing leaders are decisive with their decisions and put their full level of confidence behind it. As is the case with staying positive, a boss can second guess behind closed doors, but never in front of employees.
5. Become Comfortable with Failure
“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.” – Richard Branson
Nobody wants to fail. Leaders do not set out to run a business into the ground or to make poor decisions. However, the best way to improve as a leader is to make mistakes and to fail. Failure opens the potential to learn, adapt and improve. If a person never failed they would likely never improve. Henry Ford failed at his first automotive company (CNN, 2008). Other leaders might have packed it all in and looked for another line of work. Mr. Ford kept at it though and became one of the most influential people of his time. He modernized the assembly line, which in turn significantly reduced the cost of production. This made the Ford Model T affordable for the everyday worker while sending profits through the roof.
Walt Disney filed for bankruptcy early in his career. He had a passion for his work and he knew he could create something special. What would the world be like without the Disney Corporation? The fact of the matter is failure places a leader at a crossroad. They can learn from it and become a better professional and greater leader, or they can pack it up, continue without learning from the mistake and limit their potential (Income Diary, 2017).
6. Cut Loose the Drag
“The only way to win with a toxic person is not to play.” – Anonymous
When a company files for bankruptcy protection, the CEO and other board of director members often come out and state they are going to “trim the fat” and exit bankruptcy a leaner, stronger business. What exactly does this mean? It boils down to the business becoming bloating and carrying dead weight. As a company grows it takes on excess baggage. This appears in the form of expensive projects going nowhere, maintaining products with little to no value, creating positions and paying employees who don’t add much to the company and even professionals with inferior skills who hinder the productivity of team members. These points directly affect how a business runs and, potentially, may drag the company down.
A skilled boss not only possesses the ability to identify drag but cut it loose. How can a boss identify drag? First, they need to remain in the know. Absent leaders may not have the necessary information to locate problem areas. However, business owners who remain active and sharp should already have an idea as to what may bring down the company. Conducting regular discussions with department heads and employees should help isolate issues within the company, as does performing annual audits across the board (for everything from cost to return on investment and employee productivity).
7. Surrounded by the Best
“Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.” – Rachel Wolchin
For a leader to be the best, he or she needs to surround themselves with the best. There is only so much the head of a business, organization or even country can do on his or her own. When starting off a small business, it may only take a single individual to keep everything on track. However, as the business grows, spreads into additional regions of the country and pushes out internationally, an owner needs to have the best and brightest by their side. In sports, even the greatest athletes in the world can’t win a team game on their own. They rely on skilled professionals around them to do their jobs as well. An amazing leader knows this and understands this. They also don’t let egos get in the way of doing the best job possible. An inferior boss may feel threatened by an intelligent, smart and successful member on the board of directors and instead put someone who is less qualified in the position. The only way to truly grow a business and to remain successful is for a group of the best professionals to work together.
8. Identify People to Grow With
“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how the character is built.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
When a new employee comes about, they are never a finished product. Very few professionals are. Like a great boss, an employee should evolve and grow with the company. A successful leader can identify people who can grow with the business. It isn’t always possible to determine whether someone can and will evolve with the business (although a quality portfolio and resume can help indicate this). Sometimes it takes time to watch how a team member works with others and develops. When people are willing to grow with a business, which includes increased responsibilities, they are well worth keeping around. A top-notch boss knows this, locates these employees and does what he or she can to keep them around.
9. What Does the Company Do Best? Expand from There
“A good horse is the best company in the world.” – Katherine Cecil Thurston
A great business leader continually cultivates an assortment of ideas. However, they do not release these ideas at once. When developing a company’s identity, it is necessary to focus on one specific idea or topic and expand outward from there. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he had a vision to elevate the company back to the tech industry’s elite. However, he did not try to push half-a-dozen different products all at once. He focused on improving a single computer system. Marketing revolved around this one piece of equipment in order to drive attention to the company. It also allowed the company to devote the majority of its resources to perfecting this one product. Once Jobs stabilized the company, he went on to release the iPod. Eventually, the iPhone came, followed by the iPad and now the Apple Watch (Business Insider, 2017). Steve Jobs and Apple could have released by the iPhone and the iPad at the same time. This would have potentially reduced sales for each though. The very best leaders understand the importance of focusing on one idea the company does best and expand from there. As an amazing leader, it is vital to never let the cart get in front of the horse. It takes patience, but patience often pays off.
10. Watch Out for Those Who Take Advantage
“You can’t always be nice. That’s how people take advantage of you. Sometimes you need to set boundaries.” – Anonymous
In all walks of life, there will always be someone who tries to use others. Whether they are intentionally doing it or not, these kinds of people exist and are nothing more than dead weight. A great leader needs to know how to identify someone who is taking advantage and cut him or her loose. The problem here is often those who take advantage of a boss is a good friend or family member (and a major reason why most business schools and professionals teach against starting a business with family or friends as it may lead to the eventual destruction of the personal relationship).
How can someone identify another who may be taking advantage of a person’s good will? If an individual asks for assistance but provides nothing in return, does not hold up their end of the bargain or does not offer mutual respect, they are taking advantage. The faster a boss puts their foot down to stop this, the better off everyone in the company will be. Even if the person taking advantage of the boss isn’t a friend or family member but just another employee, it demonstrates to other workers the boss is weak and capable of being manipulated and taken advantage of. It may also demonstrate favoritism, which can whittle away the respect employees have for their boss. The faster this person is either stopped or cut loose, the better it is for everyone.
11. Nobody Should Fail for the Boss
“Let no one discourage your ambitious attitude. You don’t need a fan club to achieve your goals. Be your own motivation.” – Mama Zara
There’s an old ideal of employees falling on the sword for their bosses. Basically, this means if something goes wrong, the lower ranking individual takes the blame for it. This tactic often does come up. It is why when major allegations against a company come out, the board of directors usually isn’t affected, but instead a lower ranking manager (even though instructions typically come from the top on how to run individual departments). Despite the commonality of the practice, in order to become a great leader, nobody should fail specifically for the boss.
To build respect (which is a vital in becoming an amazing leader), it is necessary to stand up for the entire team. If those higher up do not like the outcome or have an issue with a given presentation, the boss, who oversees the operation, needs to take responsibility. Ultimately it is on their watch and they approved (or should have) the jobs performed by their team members. Nobody should fail for the boss, simply to protect the boss. Instead, the boss should always stand up and represent the team.
12. Nothing Wrong with Being a Big Company in a Small City
“It is better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a mighty ocean.” – Proverb
Far too many people want to take their business idea to a major metro area. There’s something exciting about running a successful business in New York, Tokyo, London or Dubai. However, moving from a small pond to a large ocean does have substantial drawbacks. For many, the endless competition proves more than enough to handle and may result in even the best business idea falling by the wayside. While running a business in Los Angeles may sound sexier than running a business in Lansing, there’s nothing wrong with being a big company in a smaller city. In fact, often the best chance for success is to open a brand-new business in a smaller city.
Attempting to start up a new company in a large destination brings about very specific problems. It may take a larger workforce and, chances are, the cost of living is higher which means salaries go up (as does rent and the cost of locally sourced goods). Moving a company to a large city does have eventual perks and can open additional avenues of revenue, but the fact of the matter is an excellent leader understands there are benefits in running a company out of a smaller city. Smaller cities generally mean fewer expenses, less overhead and a drop-in competition. All of this adds up to a recipe for success.
13. Change is Challenging Yet Rewarding
“If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.” – Fred DeVito
Change is difficult. Often it comes with very little warning. From a hurricane destroying the company’s office to losing a favorite employee, change is a challenge for all business owners. How a leader handles change though is what separates the good from the great leaders. Remaining patient and open, while being flexible and yet not a doormat is exactly what employees and team members need during times of change. Understanding how to handle change is not something that comes easy. By maintaining a balance of understanding yet firm at the same time, a leader will garnish the respect of employees while guiding the business along its new path.
14. Greed is a Double-Edged Sword
“As long as greed is stronger than compassion, there will always be suffering.” – Rusty Eric
The desire to expand and conquer is ever present in the professional world. The drive to increase market share and to grow a company is part of the DNA in many of the top companies around the world. However, the push to grow the bottom line simply to establish a larger number can quickly cloud the judgment of a boss. Instead of seeing obstacles and the situation for what it is, a leader consumed with greed wears blinders, which may ultimately set the individual, and those who follow, up for devastating failure.
The corruption of greed is nothing new. It traces back to the beginning of human civilization. During World War II, Adolf Hitler and the German Army continually shelled England. Instead of pushing in and taking control of the small but powerful island nation, Hitler turned his army towards Russia instead. This single decision, in a question for more land, proved costly and may have cost his army the war. In the business world, quickly expanding companies are more likely to fail. According to Fortune (2016), 2/3 of the fastest growing companies ultimately collapse in the end. Ultimately, greed can drive production, but it also may derail and destroy a company.
15. Consider All Possibilities
“When you’ve exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t.” – Thomas Edison
Before jumping head first into a new project, service or operational location, it is necessary to consider all possibilities ahead of time. Moving without understanding all variables puts the entire business at risk, including every employee working within the company. There are times where research time is limited before making a final decision, but an excellent leader doesn’t throw caution to the wind.
16. Stay Sharp
“You are a weapon. Stay sharp and seek balance.” – Colin Wright
Staying sharp and the next step (#17) of staying humble go hand in hand. In order to stay sharp, a leader needs to keep their head in the game. They can’t dictate all the work and then disappear. Not only does this look bad professionally but also it softens their ability to make quick decisions based on the current standing of the company (and external variables affecting it). A great leader remains in the know at all times. This helps keep the leader sharp. It also helps bring about trust from employees. An employee is less likely to trust the decisions of an absent boss. It’s impossible to remain sharp and absent at the same time, which is why the very best, amazing leaders are those who remain completely involved with their company and team.
17. Stay Humble
“Don’t brag about yourself let others praise you.” – Proverbs 27:2
The very best, well-respected leaders are not armchair generals. They don’t sit back and yell orders while everyone else carries out their desires. They are willing to get down and dirty with the rest of their employees. There is often a misconception of being the boss means working less. Instead, the boss should be the hardest worker within the company. Yes, the agenda will shift, but if a boss is never around and works very little, it instills trust issues within subordinates. After all, why should they work so hard when the boss reaps all of the rewards? Staying humble helps and a boss willing to put in work time allows sets an example for the rest of the employees. Employees, in turn, can model themselves after a boss who, while at the top, still puts in his or her time at the office.
18. Evolve Your Vision
“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift
Whether creating a business or project, both begin with an idea. As the idea grows and begins to develop, it may need to shift and evolve to survive. This is because when initially visualizing the company, it is pictured in a perfect setting. The problem is perfection and running a business almost never coexist. Running a business can prove turbulent, as external factors come in and affect the trajectory of the company or idea. The best leaders understand how to shift and flow with these external factors.
Running a business in many ways is like surfing. A beginning surfer may fight the waves and try to go about his or her own path. This, likely, results in the surfer being tossed from their board. However, the experienced surfer understands the ebb and flow of the waves and becomes one with the water. This results in a superior experience and the ability to ride the wave all the way back to the beach. In the business world, the faster a boss learns to not fight external factors, but learn to move with these influences, it becomes that much easier to not only survive but thrive. Sometimes a first-time leader doesn’t even realize they are fighting the natural current of business. It takes experience and the ability to look and analyze an entire situation in order to understand what is going on. By doing this and by accepting the need to evolve, very little can stop an amazing leader, their company and the employees who work there.
19. Understand Your Company
“If you don’t understand the details of your business you are going to fail.” – Jeff Bezos
Not all businesses are the same. This means not all leaders should be the same. While leadership qualities can vary, it takes a very different leader to be the head of a small business than an international corporation. Each business has different variables and circumstances at play, which means leadership skills and styles need to differ as well. Due to this, it is essential for any business leader to understand the company and adjust their leadership accordingly. While learning from the example of other successful leaders is important (such as waking up early, reading, and staying mentally and physically fit), the exact styles do not need to be the same. An amazing leader utilizes what works and molds it to fit their own company.
20. Productive Meetings
“If you want to be more productive, then start at the start: get there on time.” Richard Branson
A good manager and leader understand the concept of time is money. So organizing meeting material is essential. This cuts down not only on wasting an employee’s time but that of a client and business partner as well. This directly connects with trusting the rest of a team to do their job. If each team member knows what is expected of them, fewer meetings are required.
21. Understand Limits
“Know your limits, but never stop trying to exceed them.” – Anonymous
There are only 24-hours in a day. No matter how much someone might try, it is impossible to squeeze out one minute more. The same is true with a leader. Often, a manager or someone else in charge will try to do more than they possibly can on their own. This ends up causing problems for the rest of the team. Instead, a great leader understands their limits.
22. Always Learn from the Past
“Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future.” – Denis Waitley
Even the best leaders make mistakes. It is part of being human. What separates a great leader from an average one is the ability to learn from the past. This way, the next time a similar situation comes about; it is possible to avoid making the same mistakes twice.
23. Praise Accomplishments and Improvements
“Give praise liberally and take it with grace.” Anonymous
There comes a time in life where praise and acknowledgment fall by the wayside. While learning to walk, talk, the first A on a report card and receiving admission into a college all bring about praise for many, this kind of public recognition never the less becomes less regular and almost non-existent. Despite this, everyone strives to finish tasks, to grow and to improve. To extract the most from employees, a great leader understands the importance of offering praise for accomplishments and improvements.
24. Show Genuine Interest
“Show more interest in their story than your own.” Johnny Hunt
Most people understand the difference between a genuine reaction and a condescending or falsified one. When a boss offers up a condescending reaction to a request or opinion, it makes the employee feel small and less important. This, in turn, reduces the quality of their work as productivity begins to slip. After all, why should an employee put forward their best effort if their boss isn’t interested in what they have to say? A great leader can show genuine interest in what others have to say. Remaining genuine can go a long way in the professional world.
25. Admit Mistakes
“Those who cannot admit making stupid mistakes are destined to repeat them over and over.” – Bill Purdin
A major problem with many leaders is their inability to admit when they are wrong. Even when they know a mistake is made, their pride prevents them from turning face and correcting the course. Instead, they would rather sink the ship than admit their shortcomings. An amazing leader won’t let their pride drag down the rest of the company, which is why admitting mistakes is so important.
26. Don’t Hide Information from Employees
“Don’t hide your scars.” They make you who you are.” – Frank Sinatra
Even if employees don’t know exactly what is going on, they have a good eye for knowing when a manager begins to act differently. This raises suspicion and can cause an assortment of problems in the workplace. It is always important to remain open and to avoid hiding anything from a team.
27. Become Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” – Jillian Michaels
A leader is rarely comfortable. At least, the best leaders are. The modern workplace is a dynamic workplace. It is ever-shifting and always changing. As soon as a boss becomes comfortable they become complacent. This leads to mistakes. Instead, a good leader needs to become comfortable being uncomfortable. This way, they are ready to adapt to the changing industry and marketplace.
Leadership takes time to develop. The very best and brightest leaders continually look for ways to improve themselves, which in turn allows them to help improve others. By striving to make oneself better, a leader has the potential to transform into an amazing figurehead for a company. Regardless of the size, industry or even the number of employees, by adhering to these 27 management tips, anyone has the potential to transform from what they are now to an amazing leader of the future.