You might be the boss. But are you a good leader? Just because you have the authority to tell people what to do, doesn’t mean you can effectively guide and motivate you staff to achieve business goals. The good news is that there are some common sense ways you can boost your leadership skills and advance your career. Here’s a look at four of them:

#1: Learn to listen.

When you think of a leader, you often picture someone talking about goals and their vision for the future. But to be an effective leader, you must first be a good listener. That means listening to both your peers and subordinates and getting to know them. Ask meaningful questions and then listen carefully to their responses. Not only will you gain valuable insight, but your team will feel confident sharing issues and concerns with you that you can tackle before true problems arise.

#2: Empower your people.

When you get to know your team members and their passions and strengths, you can leverage their talents and abilities so they can become top contributors. For instance, give your employees opportunities to take risks and stretch out on their own. They may make a mistake, but they’ll also learn a lot, build respect among the team, and boost their own leadership skills.

#3: Think strategically.

Whether you’re getting ready for a meeting, or about to tackle an important project, think beforehand about what success looks like. For instance, what specific goals are you trying to achieve when you meet with your team? What kinds of challenges and objections do you anticipate – and how do you plan to overcome them? And finally, how do you plan to challenge the status quo and encourage divergent viewpoints?

#4: Measure success.

You can’t achieve future goals if you don’t measure past performance. While developing metrics can be difficult, there are many ways to measure the success of your team. For instance, you can use a mix of performance feedback, customer assessments, external audits and business results to focus in on areas that are working well and those that need improvement.

Being an effective leader isn’t always easy. And it’s not a skill that can be developed overnight. But following the common sense tips above, you can enhance your leadership skills and become a stronger leader.

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