Five Essential Principles to Improve Your Leadership Skills

Dr. Purushothaman
December 10, 2013

This may seem like a great spoiler; but certainly, there is no such thing as a hard and fast rule when it comes to leadership. Every organization, circumstance, and leader calls for different courses of action. What is to be considered as "good" leadership depends on various factors such that what could be "good" leadership in one instance could be "bad" leadership in another.

Nevertheless, you need not fret if you are seeking ways to improve your leadership. There are generally accepted principles that when studied and applied, are believed to be helpful in improving one's leadership skills. These are given below and it's all up to you to decide on whether these tips could be appropriately applied to your particular situation - whether you're running a business, organizing a school play, or governing a country.

Self-Esteem. People become more willing to work if they feel important. Effective leaders help their organization's members develop their self-esteem. You can do this by paying more attention to them and expressing your genuine interest in their opinions every time you converse. When it is well deserved, give your member a tap on the shoulder to show that his efforts are well appreciated. The key here is in being sincere and in expressing your appreciation through the littlest gestures.

Planning. Members of an organization are more able to adapt to changes if there is a specific plan of action laid out. Planning is crucial in effective leadership because it provides the organization with a concrete direction and identifiable means to achieve its goals. As a leader, you should initiate planning and exert effort in communicating those plans as clearly as possible to your members. This will strengthen your member's decision-making skills and would allow for effective delegation.

Motivation. A highly motivating work environment is undoubtedly a productive one. The organization benefits the most when its members are continuously motivated to work for and with it. There are many ways by which you, as a leader, can motivate your members. You can provide deserving members with public recognition even through a simple mention of their names and accomplishments. Offering challenges that allows your members to grow, and in a way show-off, is a brilliant to motivate them to be more competitive. You can hand out incentives such as bonuses, free stuff, or promotions to high-performing members so that your members will have something to look forward to in exchange for a job well done. One of the most important ways to motivate, however, is through leading by example. How you work, lead, and carry yourself hugely affects how much people would want to work with you.

Delegation. You can't do everything by yourself. The best leaders can effectively delegate tasks, giving them more time to plan and supervise. Usually, leaders fail to delegate effectively because they fear their subordinates would do badly at a job that they could have done much better. Do not succumb to that pitfall. Your members will definitely make mistakes, but so will you. The thing to remember here is that you should always make sure that you communicate the things that you want done clearly and that you allow your subordinates to be accountable for the consequences of their action.

Empowerment. This actually relates to delegation. Making your members accountable and responsible for their actions empowers them. It makes them feel greater self-respect; and in the long-run, it would allow them, working with accountability, to develop creativity and become better workers.

These five principles - self-esteem, planning, motivation, delegation, and empowerment - are all important in improving your leadership skills. But these are not enough. The success of your leadership will ultimately depend on the way you recognize your organization's needs and how you can adapt your leadership style to those needs. In the same way that you would evaluate your members' performance, also evaluate and reflect on yours. Only you can tell what "good" leadership is for your organization. Likewise, it's only you who can determine how you can become a "good" leader.

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