Take these nine essential steps to be a better leader


Fitness, health and diets take effort and commitment. We all know that. You can’t just read the latest diet book to lose weight. You can’t read a “How to get washboard abs” article and get the best belly on the beach. You actually have to stick to the program. You have to do the work. You have to commit to your goal. The same is true with leadership—just because someone, at one time or another, gave you the title of ‘boss’ doesn’t mean you can stop training.

Take these nine essential steps to be a better leader

Often we are asked, “How do I consistently get better as a leader,” and the response is the same, “With consistent practice.” But, what does that mean? That’s a good question and, that’s why we created a “leadership workout.” This is something you can do daily. It only takes a few minutes. But the results you’ll create will be amazing.

  1. Build trust. As a leader, you won’t get very far if your team doesn’t trust you and, while trust is usually earned over time, we suggest that you make a daily habit of looking for opportunities where you can accelerate trust by trusting someone first. Find a team member who you don’t think trusts you and offer them your trust. It could be a small project. It could be a conversation you ask them to have on your behalf. It might even be asking them for advice and saying, “I’m asking because I trust you.”

  2. Appreciate. Research shows the number one thing employees say will inspire them to do great work is recognition. Make a daily list of people on your team that you need to thank. Be specific about what they did that you appreciate. This small effort will have a huge impact.

  3. Challenge. People, for the most part, don’t come to work every day hoping to be marginal. They want to be awesome. For your leadership workout, we suggest picking at least one team member per week, that you focus on to challenge them to be their best. We’re not suggesting a “You could be better conversation.” Instead, try to find out what they want to accomplish and a way you can help them achieve their goal. This is the job of a leader—to help others become their best.

  4. Delegate. You might believe that you know more about how things should operate in your organisation than your team members. But you’ll also be shocked and amazed to see how much your team will rise to the occasion when you delegate authority, leadership and ownership of certain projects. Look for ways to share your leadership. Your team members will love stepping up.

  5. Protect. In some workplaces, a boss can be the scariest person at work. Don’t be scary. Look for ways you can show your team members that you’ve got their back. They’ll know, when you’re supporting them, that they can achieve anything.

  6. Cheer. Your team members come to work every day and pour their hearts, souls and energy into their work. Sometimes they’ll hit roadblocks. Sometimes they’ll be frustrated. And, sometimes they’ll fail. But, instead of being the person who grinds those mistakes into their psyche and details everything they did wrong, be their cheering section. Look for opportunities to talk with employees about the valuable insights they learned.

  7. Reward. You may not have the authority to give an employee a raise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reward their wins. Make it a daily task to look for employees that have succeeded—even if the result was a small win. Buy lunch, coffee, or give them a gift certificate. Employees know what they’re being paid for their work. But they also want to know they’ll be rewarded for a job well done. Make your reward match their achieved result.

  8. Care. This exercise may sound overly simplistic. However, employees want to know that their leader cares about their well-being. Ask yourself daily if there is anything you can do to increase your teams physical, psychological, or financial well-being. If there is something you can do, communicate to them that you’re working on it.

  9. Question. As leaders, we often assume our job is simply to know if employees are creating the results the organisation desires. This assumption would lead to questions like, “What are you working on?” or “What’s the status of this project?” If you really want to be a fit leader, this last piece of advice isn’t about what your employees are doing. Instead, these questions are about what you’re doing. Every day, if you want to be a strong leader, ask “How can I help?”

Fitness is word that encompasses every aspect of our lives and, when it comes to being a great leader, none of us can afford to miss a workout. Practice these nine steps daily and the strength of your team will shock you.

The authors are David Sturt, executive vice president at O.C. Tanner and Todd Nordstrom, content director at the O.C. Tanner Institute. 

This article is provided by O.C. Tanner.


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