How to become a better leader

Rich Hein

How to Become a Better Leader

In the world of tech and non-tech managerial roles, if you want a seat at the big table or you have aspirations of greatness, then certain leadership skills are necessary to take you to the next level. But how can you actualize leadership and define what makes a great leader? We spoke with authors, industry and IT career experts to find out what you can do to build your leadership skills to world-class.

Find a Good Mentor in Your Organization
"On context, you want to understand what it means to be an executive in your company-say by seeking out a mentor," says Bryan Kirschner, director of Apigee Institute, a research and strategy organization. Finding an internal mentor is a great way to improve your leadership skills and provide a roadmap for success in management in your current company. Internal mentors are there when you are dealing with unfamiliar territory or when you want to bounce an idea off of someone, and are normally more senior in the organization and can help guide you through the internal politics of the company. This type of insight can save you many years of tears and wasted effort.

Empower Your Team
There are a few key ways to empower your staff according to experts. "Empowerment is one of the biggest productivity boosters in the world, but a leader has to remember that empowerment without direction is anarchy," says Kathleen Brush, author of The Power of One: You're the Boss.

Create a Safe-to-Speak-Out environment in your department. This concept comes back to adjusting your corporate culture for empowerment.

Employees need to and should feel encouraged to understand that if they have issues or concerns they won't be laughed out of the room or simply ignored by addressing them.

Communicating to your team the importance of their positions and roles and how they fit into the big picture is another way to motivate and empower employees. While our natural inclination as leaders may be to shield our employees from the all the internal politicking that goes on in most companies, we can in fact empower people and promote bonding by letting them in on some of managements internal discussions and becoming part of the decision process.

According to Brush, the most difficult problem facing IT these days is employee retention. Creating an environment that people want to work in is crucial to keeping your team together. Think about how many times a team member leaves and then the budget disappears and the position is never refilled. While you can't stop budget cuts, you can do your very best to keep your employees on track career-wise and happy with their work.

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