How to be a leader everyone wants to work for

Be fearless and consistent.

Harper's Bazaar India

The question every leader should ask themselves is—why would anyone follow me? It takes a lot of courage to step up and be a guide and a mentor rather than a boss. I mean let’s face it, it’s not easy being a manager. They have more tabs open in their head than you do on your computer. But no one wants to work for someone who is as flaky as a croissant or gaslights or throws their team under the bus at the drop of a hat. And after all the horror stories we’ve heard, it’s fair to say a lot of bosses are not leaders. 

Some view management positions as an easy life of delegation. Or a stepping stone to their personal road to power and success. However, this usually doesn't go down well with employees in the long run. Everyone wants a leader who is approachable and can help them advance their own careers. Not someone who makes them cry in the corner of a bathroom stall. In fact, did you know that studies show that a staggering 79% of employees will quit sooner rather than later if they don't receive adequate appreciation from their managers? 

Managers often wonder what kind of people they want in their team. But it’s time to consider how you can be a better leader. A recent study found that 38 to 50 per cent of leaders fail in their first 18 months. You can avoid falling into this bracket by just motivating your team and maintaining a pleasant work environment that is free of drama and dirty politics. Keep reading to know how you can do that. 

Be Courageous 

One of the worst words associated with a leader is—cowardly. You can never be a good leader if you don’t have it in you to stand up for your employees, customers or society in general. It’s rule number one. If you’re merely a sycophant, you’ll be a boss but not a leader. But that’s not enough. You need to have the courage to confront issues (and there will be a new fire to put out every day) even if it is to your superiors. Learn to pick your battles. If they make you unpopular, so be it.  

A service-oriented attitude 

You hire people to make your job easier. They take on the day-to-day operations leaving you to focus on larger goals and plans. So yes, your employees are here to assist you. To make all your whims and fancies come true. But like respect, service needs to go both ways. Part of your job is also to create a system for your employees which is clear of obstacles and distractions. Studies have found that 69% of employees will work harder if their efforts were better recognised in a conducive environment. You streamline the process and keep all the politics at bay. It’s your job to prioritise your team's needs the same way they prioritise yours. 

Keep an open mind  

People with the ‘it’s my way or the highway mentality can never be good leaders. To be one, you need to have an open mind and be constantly learning. From the ever-changing social media algorithms to new software that might help you and your team work better, leaders listen and take actionable steps towards a goal. Talk to your employees. You won’t lose authority if you admit you don’t know something but are willing to learn. So listen. Take criticism or feedback constructively and don’t hold grudges against your employees and put them down for making a mistake. Show them the ropes and teach them how not to make the same mistake again. Be fair, innovative and on your toes. That is how you can create a work environment that fosters individual growth. According to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, fostering an inclusive work environment can lead to higher satisfaction, innovation, trust and retention among employees. 

Give your team space 

Let’s just say it— micromanagement doesn’t work. You can’t be a helicopter boss and expect things to work smoothly. No one wants someone hovering around them, asking if the tasks have been completed every two minutes. You need to delegate and trust your team enough to get things done right. Your job is to guide your employees in a way that they trust their judgement instead of standing on their heads and berating them. Once you give your employees space to do what they do best, you’ll get their loyalty and their best work.  

Consistency is key   

When it comes to good leaders, you never have to worry or wonder. You need to be alert, responsive and stick to your words. When times get tough, don’t point fingers or play the blame game. Your end goal is to be a mentor. To do that, you should understand what it means to be consistent and take action. When you take a decision, base it on what is the best thing for your team or customers, not what is the most profitable or easy thing to do. And probably the most important thing is that you need to be genuine and someone your team can consistently rely on.