Becoming a great leader doesn't have to be a soul-searching journey, nor is it dependent on your natural charisma. Instead, through a series of relatively simple actions, you can refine your leadership skills and cement yourself as an authority in your space. 1. Actively Listen. Active listening is a crucial skill for anyone in a collaborative work environment, but particularly so for leaders. Engaging with your followers directly and showing that you truly hear what they're saying is one of the best ways to build strong bonds and make yourself more accessible as a leader. Keep your mind and ears open, and take the time to build that level of trust. Encourage your employees to do the same by maintaining an open collaborative environment for discussion. 2. Express Your Gratitude. Take the time to express your gratitude, to your employees and to your followers. For example, you could individually thank workers for doing a great job and regularly thank social-media followers for their support. No matter how you choose to express that gratitude or what you choose to express gratitude for, the very act of expression can make you a better leader. Finally, expressing gratitude will make you happier and more positive in your own life, giving you a better experience in your leadership role.3. Help People Understand Their Strengths. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and if you take action to help people understand and develop their strengths, you'll establish yourself as a better leader. For example, if you notice a worker struggling with one set of tasks but exceeding in another, let him or her know your observations, and make an effort to arrange the workload to a balance more favorable to the person's strengths. 4. Simplify Something. Go out of your way to simplify something at least once a week. It can be a complicated procedure, a wordy email, a messy office, or a hierarchal chain of command. The act of simplification is great for leaders because it encourages new ways of looking at old problems, and sets a standard of continuous improvement that can (and will) become infectious in your business or organization. 5. Get Involved at the Ground Level. One of the best actions you can take as a leader is getting involved on the ground floor. If you're a popular social-media personality, take the time to have conversations with regular users. If you're the president of a manufacturing company, head to the factory floor and get a taste of what your lowest-level employees are doing on a day-to-day basis. It's a strategy that politicians often use to connect with the "common man," but it doesn't have to be superficial.
Leadership doesn't always come naturally to people. Some leaders are born, but most leaders are created through a series of circumstances and a passion for great work. Commit yourself to continual self-improvement as a leader and eventually you'll earn the respect you desire. Once you earn the trust and respect of the people around you, the rest will naturally fall into place.