Beth Armknecht Miller has successfully trained hundreds of leaders, developing their leadership skills in order to propel them forward in their careers. Beth takes her 10+ years of experience and reveals her Top 5 Leadership Growth Tips on The No Formula Podcast.
Beth kicked off the interview by providing advice to anyone who occupies a position of leadership:
- Leadership is not about the leader; it is about those being led.
- Leaders provide an environment where their employees will grow
- Measuring leadership growth depends on a company’s values. This can include higher ROI, higher revenues and internal relationships within the company, such as employee satisfaction.
- Leadership growth is important because being a strong leader will help produce your desired outcomes
Leadership Growth Tip 1: Ask Good Questions
Most of us are accustomed to asking questions that elicit defensive responses. They often begin with the word “why.” To avoid this, Beth recommends asking questions that start with “what” or “how.”
For example, “how did you come up with that conclusion?” or “What caused you to go in that direction?”
These questions allow for better self-reflection, eliciting explanations and insights into that person’s thought process. In comparison, look at the following “why” questions:
“Why did you do that?”
“Why did you go in that direction?
These questions focus on why they made certain decisions as opposed to how they reached their conclusions. This can come off as an attack on the person’s decision-making skills and trigger a defensive response. This is not ideal. Good leadership skills create an environment where others are free to open up and discuss their thought process in a psychologically safe environment. Asking the right questions will help create a dynamic environment where both the leader and their employees can grow together.
Leadership Growth Tip 2: Practice Active Listening
We all have our own opinions about how certain tasks should be completed. In other words, we have pre-conceived notions set in our minds. Active listening is the act of listening to others without pre-maturely forming your own thoughts and judgements about the topic at hand.
Before starting a conversation with your employee about a point of disagreement, consider the following tips:
- Write down your thoughts beforehand. This allows you to focus on what your employee is telling you without your own thoughts and responses getting in the way.
- Echo back what you heard. Active listening is not only about removing your pre-conceived judgments. It is also about better understanding what your employees are trying to tell you. Do this by repeating what your employees are telling you in your own words. This shows them you are following along and making efforts to understand their point of view.
- Become comfortable with silence. In many cases, leaders try to save their employees in conversations. For example, when an employee takes a pause or stops speaking, the leader tries to save them by filling in the silence. In many cases, their pause or period of silence is essential for them to properly reflect and form their responses. Give your employee time to respond and avoid “saving” them. This will allow your employees the space to formulate their own thoughts. And if the silence gets uncomfortable just say “take your time. It gives them permission to continue to self-reflect.
Leadership Growth Tip 3: Ask for Feedback
It is difficult to improve your leadership skills when you are unaware of your own weaknesses. To start identifying where you may need help, ask your team for feedback. Choose an appropriate time to ask your employees for their feedback on how they view your leadership skills. It is best to conduct this exercise in a group setting to avoid creating an intimidating environment in a one-on-one setting.
When an employee provides feedback, you should be grateful and thank them. However, the most important part is to take action. If you don’t take action, your employees will be discouraged to share their opinions again. As a leader, ask for feedback when you are ready to implement change.
Leadership Growth Tip 4: Practice Praise
Beth reminds us that praising our employees does not come naturally. In fact, most leaders think it should only be done when an employee does something extraordinary. However, Beth reveals that employees should be praised at least three times more than they should get corrective feedback. The purpose is to reinforce the behaviors you want more of.
Similar to positive reinforcement, you want to ensure your employees are being recognized for their work. This helps raise employee morale and promotes open communication.
Leadership Growth Tip 5: Focus on What You Can Control and Influence
During the interview, Beth reveals that some leaders spend time and energy on things they cannot control. This creates a stressful environment for everyone.
Instead, leaders should focus on tasks they have control over, such as their own thoughts, behaviors and actions. This also includes their ability to influence others.
Beth admits that there is no single formula to leadership. There are certain characteristics that are proven to work in leadership positions, however, each leader should to be honest with themselves. This means acknowledging their own weaknesses and taking responsibility to address their weaknesses. Inevitably, this process varies for each leader.
If you need help developing your leadership skills or even identifying where you may fall short, contact us here.
To listen to the full podcast episode on The No Formula Podcast, listen to Beth Armknecht Miller’s episode here.