5 changes to your leadership style you can start today

Changing your leadership style isn’t an easy process. CEOs need to carefully evaluate their own skills, based on feedback from their team, and then identify strategies to improve the way they work to match these needs.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for leaders to make small, fast changes to the way they lead, changes that can help them achieve their goals and build a stronger organisation.

The words you use can have a profound impact on employee performance. To meet this challenge, we’ve assembled a list of five small adjustments you can make to your leadership style, based on advice from some of the biggest thinkers in their respective fields

1) ‘Start with Why’

It’s often the simplest questions that are the hardest to answer. According to Simon Sinek, the most important question that leaders fail to ask is ‘why?’ Why does an organisation exist? Why is it different to competitors?

Asking these questions and then building a strategy around them is the exact opposite of how many leaders think about their business. However, having an answer to these questions is exactly what sets successful companies from the rest.

For more information, you can watch Simon’s TED Talk where he goes into more detail on how starting with why can help business owners:

Asking yourself why your company exists and teasing out answers to these questions can be a relatively quick change to your leadership style, but it’s one that has the potential to redefine the way your business operates.

2) Find a mentor

One of the most important relationships any business owner or CEO will have is with a mentor who can help them to become a better leader. Mentors come in many different forms – some are formal roles while others are informal, while each will have different skills and experience.

It is unlikely that you will be able to find a mentor in a single day – it takes time and effort to find and build this relationship. However, it only takes a moment to commit to this journey and begin thinking about what you need from a mentor.

3) We, or me?

The words we use to communicate can have a profound on how people perceive us. According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, leaders use the pronoun ‘we’ far more frequently than lower-ranked employees.

According to the author David Burkus: “While switching from singular “I” to the plural “we” may not make you a king or win you a premiership, it might help shift your perspective from self-focused to others-focused, make you more aware of the needs of others and, as you work to meet those needs, might just make you a better leader.”

4) Empower your staff to make decisions

Just like finding a mentor, empowering staff is a long-term decision that can have important consequences for your business. This can take many forms, from delegating more responsibility to other executives through to simply taking a step back in meetings and giving staff the chance to lead discussions.

Roselinde Torres, managing director at the Boston Consulting Group, has emphasised that this is partially due to changes in how we think about leadership.

Roselinde Torres: Leadership is no longer about one heroic leader and more about distributed leadership teams. #NXMW2015

— Olson (@OLSONagency) August 5, 2015

5) Celebrate small wins

In every organisation, there are big successes and there are small things that go right every day. While these little wins will often go unrecognised, they also play an important role in setting the tone of a workplace. Identifying and supporting these small moments can start today and is an easy way to build support within the business for new growth.

Writing in Entrepreneur, Zach Ferre, CEO of Coplex, offers the following advice:

“To boost our positivity ratio, we send screenshots of good customer feedback in our “weekly good notes” team emails. Showing employees that customers appreciate their work and are seeing positive results helps remind them why they do what they do,” he explained.

Adjusting your leadership style happens incrementally and it takes time to see the benefits. However, leaders that can put in place a plan to address these obstacles will position themselves in a much better position to drive larger change in their organisation.