Take a look at some of the most successful leaders of large brands -- the Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos -- and you will notice one similarity: They lead and inspire through their influence. It's not necessarily what you do or what you say that makes your employees and team members respect you and trust your vision -- it's who you are.
The best leaders have an unparalleled work ethic and the determition to overcome any obstacle in their way, while also understanding they need to interact and communicate with their team like human beings. You can't be a good leader without authentic and genuine human interaction.
Here are three things to do in order to become a better leader this year.
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1. Listen more.
There are very few things more stressful and overwhelming than starting a business. The minute you decide to make the leap and become an entrepreneur, you immediately wear several hats and take on countless responsibilities.
Many entrepreneurs assume the "boss" role and become dictators, letting their title cloud their better judgment. Instead, communicate just like you would in a normal conversation. Speak, but more importantly, listen.
Listen outside of your own conversations as well. When you constantly have your ears open, you will pick up on things that can be improved upon within your company that will not only make your team members happier and more productive, but also have a positive impact on your bottom line.
Related: 50 Rules for Being a Great Leader
2. Be straightforward.
Have you ever had a boss in the past that was very unpredictable? Meaning, you never knew what his or her reaction would be if you went to them with a question or suggestion? If you're not straightforward 100 percent of the time, your team members will do everything they can to avoid communicating with you.
If this disconnect occurs, you will drastically water down your influence. A strong leader is approachable at all times and straightforward.
One of the simplest solutions is to always leave emotions, personal issues and distractions at the door. When you walk into work, or start your day from a remote location, those "other" things can't come along. Check them at the door until your day is over.
Life happens, and we all deal with things outside of our professional lives, but it's how we handle those other things that impact the type of leaders we become. Consistency is key when it comes to communication -- your team needs to know they can come to you at any time or discuss any topic -- and that trust is built by being straightforward.