Being an effective leader is much more than just telling people what to do. A strong leader inspires others. If you’re looking to grow your leadership skills or want to advance into a higher leadership role, here are three tips to help you lead with positive influence.

1. Set Expectations and Goals Early

Not having clear-cut goals and expectations can be frustrating for your team. One of the best ways that you can be effective at leading is by setting your expectations in clear terms and establishing your goals to be easily understood. To help you remember, use the SMART acronym. You want your goals, both large and small to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. With a structure like this, you can be assured that everyone knows what is expected of them and what they need to do to succeed.

2. Make Time to Listen

Leadership is about people. Great leadership means inspiring your team to take action and to take ownership of their actions. In order to inspire your team, you first have to listen to them. Make time for your team no matter how busy you are; they are essential to everything you do. Have an open-door policy – meaning any of your team members can stop by and talk about what concerns them. Show your team that you respect their thoughts and opinions. Practice empathy and active listening; this goes a long way toward building the bonds of trust that are essential elements to a strong organization.

3. Recognize Achievements (and Take the Blame)

Recognize the achievements of your employees. When they accomplish something, or go out of their way to be helpful, don’t hesitate to make that success noticed. Publicly congratulating them for what they did, put them in for an award, anything to show that their contribution above the standard workflow was recognized and worth it. On the flip side, if your department has issues and mistakes happen, don’t blame your employees either to your boss or in front of others. You are the manager, and it’s your job to be between them and the upper management.

Lastly, keep in mind that the foundation of great leadership is positivity. Leaders should make the workplace as fun as they can so employees will enjoy being there. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but rather lead by example and encourage bold action.

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