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5 More Ways You Can Be More Effective as a Leader

Graphic Showing Thinking OptionsPersonal effectiveness is something you can learn and do. It’s not an inborn trait. To be more effective doesn’t require you to be more intelligent, more educated, more attractive, more wealthy, more lucky or more experienced. It requires only your willingness to work on changing your habits. You can tackle just one habit at a time for incremental improvements in your effectiveness.

Effectiveness is defined simply as your ability to get things done. It’s an important skill, being effective, since it is what people expect from us in the workplace and at home. People who can get things done are people we trust and admire. You can be one of those people.

Here are the five remaining habits to work on if you’d like to improve your personal effectiveness.

Be more effective by keeping yourself under control

Nobody gives any degree of control to the people who can’t seem to control themselves. Emotional outbursts signal a lack of self-control. When you lose self-control, it is frightening to others and they do not view you as someone they can trust. You can’t be effective if you aren’t trusted.

Self-control is the ability to limit your expression to that which is appropriate to the person, time & place. This is proactive, but pure feelings can be reactive if not tempered with reason. This includes controlling what you express to yourself. Being controlled by an emotion is no excuse for bad behaviors. You have to develop habits for keeping emotions in check so that you can be more effective.

In any situation, when you want to be effective, here’s the question you need to ask yourself: Do I want to be emotional or do I want to be effective? The two seldom go hand-in-hand.

Be more effective by being self-aware

Self-awareness means that you understand yourself and your impact on others.

To become self-aware, you have to be willing to be honest with yourself. That requires introspection and reflection about your strengths and your weaknesses, too. As you’re being honest with yourself, you’ll notice that you may make excuses about your weaknesses. Is that really necessary? How about accepting them instead and even working on the ones that will make you more effective? Ask yourself, candidly, “what is holding me back?” When you get clarity on how you are perceived by others and why, you will have an awareness that can set you up for success.

People who never develop this level of self-awareness typically struggle throughout their entire lives with the same challenges. They externalize the blame and act as if they are helpless. Others observe this and lose respect. They may even try to tell the person who lacks this self-awareness, only to be dismissed or denied in what they’ve offered. To be more effective, listen to what others are trying to tell you and be more honest with yourself.

Be more effective by being courageous

We all have fears – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the unknown. For many people, the fears they have are so strong that they deny themselves opportunities for professional or personal growth.

Being courageous does not mean having no fear. Instead, being courageous means taking action despite that fear.

So when it comes to your career or to making decisions or to moving outside your comfort zone… you should know that your fears are no different than anyone else’s. But you can set yourself apart from everyone else by courageously acting even though you are afraid.

Make a PACT with yourself to do these four things – Pinpoint what it is you need to do, take the Action needed, live with any Consequences and never regret that you acted bravely, and Track your actions and the consequences so you can learn and grow from them. This is an effective strategy for achieving your goals and for demonstrating courage.

Be more effective by accepting criticism graciously

Criticism hurts. Our automatic response is pain. A single word of criticism can drum up a lifetime of similar criticism, including self-criticism. So to avoid this pain, we avoid asking for and hearing criticism.

For some people, the avoidance of criticism is to be overly defensive, to try and justify or minimize the situation you are being criticized for. For others, the criticism is not only accepted but magnified with a lot of self-condemnation being added to the actual criticism. And some people do both – minimizing in public and maximizing alone.

Another common response is to shift blame or externalize all criticism. By denying responsibility to deflect the criticism we think we make ourselves look better. Actually, though, in business we are viewed as having limited potential to lead if we cannot accept responsibility. What you are saying when you shift blame is that you were not in control of the situation… and this shows limitations to your effectiveness.

To deal more effectively with criticism and to learn and grow from it, separate out the constructive points from the destructive ones. Constructive criticism comes from people who want you to grow and develop. It has a purpose and it is not a personal attack. You can most easily identify constructive criticism because it contains some specific examples or information. If you don’t hear this, ask for it – not defensively but with the intent of understanding. Saying “I’d like to understand your perspective better. What examples can you share with me?” will invite more information. Saying “What are you talking about? I always try hard to do that!” won’t get you anything more concrete to work with.

This is hard to do. But people will respect this approach and you will be more effective as a result of it.

Be more effective by being a team player

Last, but certainly not least, is the need to be a team player if you want to become more effective. No one can do it all alone. Every member of every group has something to contribute. Tap into the unique ideas and experiences and talents each person has to offer. Build alliances. Share for the common good.

Don’t try to justify going it alone. Trying to be a hero or to be a solo act just isn’t sustainable. You can only get so far on your own. So seek team members you can count on. Bring others along with you. Your effectiveness will increase exponentially when you rely on others.

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CONNECT 2 Lead graphic smalDeb Calvert is a Certified Executive Coach, keynote speaker and leadership development program architect and trainer. Book Deb today to speak at your leadership events, and subscribe to our weekly CONNECT2Lead Newsletter for special offers, content, and blog posts.

 Editor's note: This blog was  originally published April 2016 and has been recently updated..