7 Things You Can Do TODAY To Become a Better Leader

image via Bbalaji

image by Balaji B

[It’s guest post Monday! This post is written by Dillon Hazel who has a passion to write leadership and entrepreneur content. You can read his blog at Leadership 202. If you are interested in guest posting on my blog click here.]

Reading and learning about how to become a great leader is one thing, but applying it to your life is where it actually counts. There’s plenty of great leadership literature out there, but applying it immediately can sometimes be difficult. Here’s a list of 7 simple things you can do TODAY to become a better leader!

1.) Remind yourself of the big picture:

Big picture thinking is crucial to your ability to lead. Often times we get so caught up in day-to-day activities that we forget why we’re doing them in the first place. For me, big picture thinking helps me keep my eyes on the prize and makes the mundane activities less boring. Your team will also be much more motivated in their work when they remember where their work is heading in the long-run. So identify the big picture, write it down, and share it with those who are a part of it!

2.) Thank your team:

Nobody likes working for someone who is ungrateful. Thankfulness is a critical distinction between leaders and managers, so make sure you thank your team and thank them often.
To take this a step further, praise an individual in front of the rest of the team. Think back to being a child on a sport’s team… how much more impactful was it when the coach gave out the game ball in front of the entire team, rather than in private? So say thank you today; it’s probably the easiest and most impactful thing on this list.

3.) Read a chapter of a new leadership book:

I’m not saying read the entire thing, just pick up a leadership book and read a single chapter of it. Most leadership books are designed so that the reader absorbs it one chapter at a time anyway. Check out my list of 5 favorite leadership books to get you started!

4.) Call a brainstorming session:

Brainstorming is a great thing to do at the beginning of the day. Whether you’re in the startup process or if you just need some fresh ideas on improving an old system, gather your team together and ask them for ideas. Spend as much time as you feel necessary on this or set a time limit, it’s up to you.

This will also show your team that you care about their ideas and feedback. When your team is able to make a tangible impact on what you’re doing, they feel more empowered and will be much happier with you at the helm.

5.) Ask 5 people what they think your strengths and weaknesses are:

Asking people what they think you’re good at is easy, everyone loves praise! It’s the other half that takes some courage. Ask 5 people whom you regularly interact with (business partner, significant other, sibling, etc.) what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. This will help you identify where you may be lacking, and where you have a competitive leadership advantage.

Make sure this one doesn’t stop after the conversation! Write down the feedback you get and spend time reflecting on how you can use the information to improve yourself.

6.) Sign up for a leadership course / seminar:

Go to Google.com and search “leadership seminar” or “leadership course online.” There are literally thousands of results that will show up for this. Check a few out, read their reviews, and sign up for one. Better yet, check out my list. Even if the course doesn’t start for a few months, commit yourself to taking it.

I would also encourage you to attend a physical seminar if possible. Not only are seminars much more personal and impactful, they are also a great place to network with like-minded people.

7.) Create thinking time:

Making time to think can actually be a lot more difficult than it seems. This one requires you to turn off your cell phone, find a quiet place, and commit at least 30 minutes to doing nothing but think. Bring a pad of paper if you want and write down whatever comes to mind.

Thinking time should be made as often as possible. For me, I think best when I’m in the shower. An advantage to this is that since I shower every day, I get thinking time every day (although the pad of paper idea doesn’t work very well).

Anyhow, make the effort to create quiet thinking time. You never know what ideas your brain is waiting to reveal to you, you just have to give it the chance!

Question: Can you add to the list? What are your ideas for quick and simple leadership building activities? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • This is a good list – a lot of really applicable tips. My favourite is the last one “create thinking time”. The way I’ve found most effective is to block out time in my diary – in other words make an appointment with myself. That way I’m “booked” if anyone asks to meet at that time and I take the time seriously.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the list. That’s great that you schedule thinking time and stick with it. Taking time to think is so essential. Thank you for taking the time to stop to read the post.

  • Nice post Dillon. Asking your team is a huge thing. We all intend to communicate what we want out of our team the question is weather it impacted the way we intended. When I began asking I realized I was not giving my team enough information to have success.

    • That’s what I find myself doing all the time, I’m thankful but unless I verbalize it my team will never know!

      • I’ve learned that it’s not realized unless it is verbalized. The key is to make it a normal routine.

    • Great thoughts, Zech! I’ve found taking time to connect and sit down with our people is crucial. To sit down and discuss the different work issues and vision of the project/organization. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • I like the list and passion. One of the elements of leading is actually knowing the market trends that you’re involved in. It seems pretty basic, but I see people make that mistake all the time. Studying the past can open the future.

    • That’s defiantly true, Floyd. Knowing the market trends is essential. Love your statement: “Studying the past can open the future.” SO true!

  • If there’s one thing on this list I probably need to do more of it would be “thank your team”. There’s so much power in a simple thank you!

    • That’s a big one. I highly encourage you to implement that. Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • Great thoughts Dan. I would also include listening to podcast (similar to reading and seminars). The goal is to be a constant learner. We always want to continue to grow as leaders.

    • Hello Paul,

      That’s a great addition. I listen to Podcast or audio books a lot thought the day. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • Great ideas. Thinking time is so important. You can be so busy putting out fires that you can’t think about how to prevent them. I would add to the list to mentor a new leader. You learn more about what you’re doing and why and can even renew your passion for leading by mentoring someone else.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this post:) Great point, mentoring or teaching a new person/leader can really allow us to grow as well. Thank you for sharing your wise thoughts.

  • Dillon Hazel

    Thank you for the positive feedback, everyone! You all seem to be great leaders yourselves. I’ll take note of everyone’s comments and possibly do a part 2 on my own blog (Leadership202.com) in the next few days.

    Here’s a question for everyone: How could bloggers, like Dan and myself, further motivate you to take daily action toward improving your leadership abilities? Thanks!

  • Love all the tips Dillon! On # 6 I agree on attending physical seminars – there’s a different kind of energy, motivation and impact that comes being there, live. Great tips

    • Great point, I’ve learned powerful benefits come as a result of attending a live event. Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the discussion.

    • Dillon Hazel

      Thanks for the positivity Ngina! I couldn’t agree with you more; I love the intimacy of a physical seminar much more than just watching a video online.

  • Great tips. I really like that you added thanking others. Feeling appreciated for both small and large tasks makes for a more enjoyable work environment. People like to feel validated. It can really motivate people to go the extra mile.

    oh and I get most of my “great ideas” in the shower. It’s about the only place I have with silence :)

    • Hello TC Avey,

      Yes, thanking others is so important. I know I feel more inspired and motivated when I’m recognized and thanked for my work.

      Kids:)

  • DS

    I would suggest to apply what you learn. When you learn/hear a new technique or something compelling – implement it. Otherwise you’re wasting your time, money, and effort.

    • Yes, implementing and applying what we learn is essential. Thank you for adding that point!

  • Thanking your boss also helps. Most leaders have a leader they in turn they report too. I’ve found that thanking the dean every time she helps our department get something completed leads to her offering our department more in the end.

    • What a great point, Dan! I’d go one step further and say that asking them if they need any extra help (If the situation is appropriate) would be good. Showing your appreciation and letting them know your able to help them (with anything above and beyond your own job duties) are great ways to gain favor with our bosses. Thank you for adding to the topic.

  • I like number 7. Thinking time is so underrated. Being a leader, or simply being busy is taxing on the brain and on the body. We need that time out to recover and to wash away the everyday stresses that can often overwhelm us.

    I know some of my best ideas and inspiring moments have risen from doing absolutely nothing at all.

    • That’s a good one! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about thinking time. It’s always great to hear from you.

    • Dillon Hazel

      Jamie, I totally agree. One of my mentors wakes up every morning at 5:45 a.m. to meditate before he starts his day. Such an amazing way to make your thinking time proactive for the day ahead, rather than reactive to it. I wish I had half the discipline that he has!

      • I didn’t know 5:45 am even existed!

        • Ha:) it sure does, unfortunately. It’s when I have to get up.

  • Great post Dillion. I think #2, thanking your team, is huge and one that we often forget!

    I think one of the primary characteristics of great leaders is sharing success.

    Your tribe always grows stronger when you allow them to have ownership in the end-result.

    Thanks for reminding us of these great tips.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Larry! That is an important one.

      I like that, “Sharing success.” Strong leaders know the importance of that.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! I appreciate you.