Eight Ways to Be a Better Leader in 2018

Kevin Eikenberry

Here is my list of eight critical skills for leaders to focus on in 2018:

More productivity, less place.

More leaders have teams who are remote some or all of the time. If you have worries about what people are doing when they aren't nearby, it is time to let that go. In most all cases, people are more productive when they have fewer of the distractions that naturally occur at work. Focus on your productivity and supporting the productivity of your team, wherever they may be working.

More influence, less power.

For far too long too many leaders have tried to play the power card as if it was the only card in their hand. There is an inherent power imbalance between you and those you lead, but there is far more to leadership than just using your power. Focus your development on being more influential; working on skills and relationships with individuals to create an environment where people choose to follow. This is related to the last item on this list, and it is too important to overlook!

More trust, less micromanagement.

You don't want to be led by a micromanager, and neither does your team. While a lack of trust is far from the only reason leaders micromanage, it is often the biggest perception your team has of this tendency. Work to build your trust in your team members -- you will be rewarded in many ways, and likely you will feel less need to micromanage too.

More coaching, less "annual performance review."

I have far more to say about the annual performance review than can be shared here, but the fact is that you need to coach more frequently. If your organization requires an annual performance review, it will be far easier and far more effective if you are coaching regularly. When you do that, most of the stress goes out of the performance review; and performance will improve, and improve sooner.

More intention, less routine.

Routine helps us navigate our world, but doesn't allow us to change. Routine is the worker bee of the status quo. As a leader, you must expect more of yourself and your team than the simple status quo, which means you must be more intentional about what you want to accomplish and be more intentional about your behaviors and choices. Don't rely solely on routine; re-examine them to make sure they are serving your best interests.

More "us," less "them."

I challenge you to change this in your thinking, and one way to test it is in your words. Read your emails, read your memos. Listen to what you are saying. Speak more inclusively and with more personal pronouns. This shows your ownership and shows your team where they stand in your mind.

More listening, less talking.

You know this is important and it is pretty simple. Talk less. Engage with your team by listening, not by talking. Ask questions, then be quiet. When you listen, you can learn. When you really listen, you show people you care about their message and them.

More commitment, less compliance.

You want commitment from your team, right? If so, you need to lead differently, be more intentional and focus on influence. Recently I wrote an article about this that I hope you find helpful.

This list applies to you as a leader -- it also speaks to those who lead other leaders -- you might share this with those people as a source of conversation about their development and your expectations. Also, if you are reading this as a Learning or Talent professional, ask yourself if your leadership development experiences address these important skills. If not, and you would like some help, contact us.

About the author:

Kevin Eikenberry is a world-renowned leadership expert, a two-time bestselling author, speaker, consultant, trainer, coach, leader, learner, husband and father (not necessarily in that order).

Kevin is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a leadership and learning consulting company that has been helping organizations, teams and individuals reach their potential since 1993. Kevin's specialties include leadership, teams and teamwork, organizational culture, facilitating change, organizational learning and more.

Reprinted with permission courtesy of
Opti Staffing Group