Being the boss isn’t always easy. Having a leadership role means you need to get your own work done while managing others, and oftentimes, it means making tough decisions.
It can be easy to get caught up in your responsibilities, but if you want to be a good leader, you need to take some time to self-reflect and consider how you can improve. As the boss, if you can be your best self, you can run an even better business.
Business News Daily asked business owners and experts what makes a good leader. Want to lead your team to success? Here are 21 ways to be a better boss:
1. Be a mentor, not a parent.
“Remember, you are not your employees’ parent — you’re their boss, not their mommy and daddy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t hear them out when they need your advice and mentorship.” - Arlene Howard, owner and CEO, Arlene Howard Public Relations
2. Invest in your employees.
“To be an effective leader, you need to start at the heart of the company: your employees. I firmly believe happy and engaged employees do great things. Invest in them, and provide a clear picture of where the company stands and where it is headed. The critical first step is creating a vibrant company culture where people are motivated, and where collaboration is fostered and healthy lifestyles are encouraged.” - Bruce Cazenave, CEO, Nautilus
3. Admit when you’re wrong.
“It may be counterintuitive, but admitting that you’re wrong doesn’t have to be a sign of weakness, even in the often-competitive atmosphere of today’s workplace. In my experience, it actually makes you a stronger leader. Practice advertising, rather than hiding, your mistakes. People trust you more when you’re open about your imperfections.” - Alan C. Fox, president, ACF Property Management [30 Inspiring Leadership Quotes ]
4. Be flexible about working from home.
“Prioritize people over place. That means hire incredible people and give them the freedom to work from wherever they work best.” -Mark Gilbreath, founder and CEO, LiquidSpace
5. Communicate better.
“Listen and observe more. Talk and multitask less. We all give clues as to what is going on internally on a regular basis. Those clues give great insight into how to communicate with your employees more effectively. Focus as much on “how they say it” as what they say, and observe nonverbal communication, tonal and pitch changes, and changes in regular communication patterns, to see potential issues before they arise.” - Matt Eventoff, owner, Princeton Public Speaking
6. Hold slackers accountable.
“Hold everyone accountable. The biggest thing that demotivates a workforce is the wrong (slacker) people in place not being held accountable and the good people have to carry everyone and do all the work.” - Brian Braudis, founder and president, The Braudis Group Consultants
7. Make things more exciting.
“One of the best traits of a good boss is to be able to build excitement among employees about the things they are working on. Every employee should know why we are doing the things we are doing, and should feel excited about it. This is also a good exercise for you as a boss. If you can’t clearly articulate why the things we work on are so important, we are probably working on the wrong things.” - Aytekin Tank, CEO, JotForm
8. Recognize your employees’ strengths.
“Get good at spotting the strengths of others, including your direct reports, peers and your boss. Research indicates that paying attention to the strengths of others is a critical element in developing others to be more successful, as well as building effective partnering relationships.” - Dr. Karissa Thacker, management psychologist
9. Lead with love.
“So many managerial tips focus on tactics. If more leaders led from the inside out — with love for their company, love for their customers and love for the people who help drive the company — first, decisions would be more clear (including how to address tough love topics). Leaders loving themselves is also imperative for success. Happy, healthy leaders have wealthier companies.” -Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO, Web Marketing Therapy
10. Trust your team.
“[A] company’s success is entirely dependent on the success of the team as a whole, and without them, they would have never gotten there. In order to be a better boss, you need to be able to recognize your weaknesses and trust that the team you’ve built will be able to complement those areas with their own strengths.” - Ashley Morris, CEO, Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop
11. Be understanding and empathetic.
“Empathy is the most important trait for being a good boss. It helps bridge that gap between what the business needs and what the employee needs. If you can’t put yourself in the shoes of the employee, you will never be able to understand them, and, ultimately, help them become a high performer. After all, that is the role of the boss — build a team of high performers.” - Ron Webb, executive director of open standards research, APQC
12. Openly praise employees.
“Praise your employees publicly for a job well done. When the time comes to give them developmental feedback, do it privately. No one likes to be embarrassed in front of their peers.” - Kim Littlefield, senior vice president, Keystone Partners
13. Empower others.
“Stop acting like a boss. Too many bosses believe that leadership is a geographic waypoint, that a leader must stand in front of everyone else. The truth is, leadership is about empowering others to do great things.” - Jeff Stibel, CEO, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.
14. Bond with your team.
“It’s really easy to stay heads down, working nonstop, but at the end of the day, you are only as effective as the total output of your team. So stop working for a second and be human. Go out for drinks, food, laughs and learn more about the people you work with and the things that matter to them outside of work. You’ll be happier, they will be happier and the team’s output will be greater.” -Jeremy Smith, co-founder and chief operating officer, SpotHero
15. Stop micromanaging.
“Step back and give your team members the freedom on how to hit [their] goals as opposed to micromanaging them. Give them counsel, but let them have the freedom to stretch.” - Kathryn Prusinski, vice president of integration and development, Vision Alignment
16. Be a teacher.
“Years ago, it was enough to tell someone to do something. Today, it’s imperative to share information [and] the reasoning behind your vision, and allow input from your team. Being open to input, being fair, setting guidelines, teaching employees and doling out tough love when necessary is how to be a better boss.” - Elliot Fread, president and founder, BIMMY’s
17. Stay open to feedback.
“Always remember that leading a team is a privilege. A good boss must always take the time to help people learn new skills and remain open to both positive and constructive feedback from any member of the team.” - Aaron Charlesworth, vice president of marketing, Vonage Business Solutions
18. Thank your employees.
“Say ‘thank you.’ [When] employees feel appreciated, they not only work harder, but they are more inclined to trust each other and their leaders; they are more motivated and engaged in their work; and they feel a larger sense of meaning and self-worth in their lives.” - Eric Mosley, CEO, Globoforce
19. Have an open-door policy.
“Keeping your door open, or even setting up your office in a ‘common cubicle,’ invites more personal interaction with others, and you will be more approachable. By being more approachable, this can allow others to feel more vulnerable, which in turn, can make them be more willing to share their ideas, [and] be creative and productive.” - Lou Solomon, founder and CEO, Interact
20. Help your employees grow.
“A great manager [is] invested in sustaining employee engagement by keeping employee career progression in mind with opportunities for learning, job growth and career development.” - Dave MacKay, president, Ceridian
21. Offer emotional support.
“What can really set you apart is by supporting them when they are struggling personally. Every one of us has had to deal with a sick child or parent or illness, and a truly good boss will make you realize that family comes first and will find ways to cover your work so you can concentrate on what’s most important.” - Elizabeth Spayne, executive vice president of marketing, WinterWyman