Four Ways to Improve Your Leadership Skills Instantly

We all know that the road to absolutely nowhere is paved with good intentions.

Everyone has them, but intentions usually require that we (gulp) change, which can be difficult. But as we all know, change is both inevitable and necessary.

So for 2012, consider activating one of the following good intentions to polish your management and leadership skills. Whichever one you choose, commit to it entirely with unrelenting focus – you owe it to your colleagues, your company and most importantly, you owe it to yourself. You’ll notice an immediate improvement in how you and your employees communicate with each other, and you’ll likely notice a boost in morale within your company or department. Guaranteed.

1. Become the best listener you can be. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a conversation with someone who gives half their attention to you and the other half to their iPhone, or email. Even worse is the person who lets you vent, and then re-directs the conversation away from your needs and concerns back to theirs. Listening is a skill, and one that requires you (the receiver) to give the sender your undivided attention. (My L.E.T. trainer once told me of a manager who walks away from behind his desk and sits down at a small table in his office directly across from his employees when they want to speak with him.)

art of listening great listener leadership skillsThose who master the art of listening are much better communicators and quickly earn the respect of employees and colleagues. In fact, being called a great listener is one of the greatest compliments one can receive.

2. Stop solving other people’s problems. It’s not your role as a manager to solve everyone’s problems. More importantly, people don’t want, or expect you to solve their problems. When tempted to force feed unsolicited advice, keep in mind that unless you own the problem, you are not in the best position to solve the problem. The best approach is to concentrate on mastering #1 above and facilitate the problem solving process with the person who owns the problem – it will make your life much less stressful. Consider taking a leadership training course, such as L.E.T. to learn and master this skill.

3. If you are a micromanager, stop! Why? If you micromanage, you can bet that your best employees are looking for new jobs. Wouldn’t you if your manager kept you on a leash?

4. Stop roadblocking communications.Communication Roadblocks impede a person’s ability to think, act and behave independently to create solutions for his or her problems. Some of the most common communication roadblocks include: ordering, warning, moralizing, advising, using logic, criticizing, praising, labeling, analyzing, reassuring, questioning, and avoiding. Each one of these roadblocks diverts, redirects and/or forces the sender (the person who owns the problem) to do the unnatural which could possibly exacerbate an existing problem into something much more complex and severe. Roadblocking indirectly tells people that they do not have the intelligence or ability to make their own decisions, yet many of us roadblock all the time and don’t realize how damaging it is. Next time you’re in a conversation with someone, pay close attention to the roadblocks they use, and then ask yourself how it changed the dynamic of your conversation.

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