Some people may be born leaders, but being the boss isn't always easy. Running a business means you have to get all of your work done while leading a team at the same time, and it can be difficult to keep up with all of those responsibilities.
Ready to lead your team to success? Take some time to reflect and try these 27 expert tips to become a better boss.
Manage your energy levels.
"Our energy, however minimal, can be felt by others. When too strong, it can feel forceful and dominant. When not enough energy is projected, then a leader may not show enthusiasm or confidence. Balancing our energy and doing it consistently is another way that we, as leaders, build trust so that others are inspired and want to be on board with us." – Janis Cooper, owner, EQnimity
Stop viewing yourself as "the boss."
"Though you are in a position of relative authority and may at times need to assert it, those times should be rare. You need to deeply understand that your employees are more talented than you in their field, and for your organization to thrive you need to tap into their creativity and commitment." – Justin Cook, partner and director of Internet marketing, 9thco
Hold smarter meetings.
"We all spend a lot of our time in meetings, and meetings get a bad rap, mostly because they aren't run effectively, start late and drag on past the ending time. But a good meeting can be the most efficient way to clarify, align and make critical decisions with the team. Focus on having objectives for the meeting, being very clear, guide the conversation to stay on topic and keep to a reasonable meeting length. Not only will this help give the team clarity and confidence, but it respects your staff's valuable time." – Shaun Ritchie, co-founder, Eventboard
Be a team player.
"One of the best questions a boss could ask is, 'What do you need from me? How can I help?' It's important for leaders to understand the role they play in their employees' process and success. The willingness to roll up [their] sleeves and do what's necessary to obtain the desired result will always be noted by a leader's team, and will usually result in creating a high morale and sense of camaraderie amongst the team." – Latasha Kennedy, project manager and founder, LMK Entertainment Group
Hire the right people.
"A great boss hires the right people for the team. To move the company strategy forward, every person in the organization must be a fit for the organization and department teams. This does not mean people should never question the way in which work is done based on the culture, but one who does not fit often struggles to understand how work should be managed and will be unable to move ideas and concepts forward." – Theresa Ashby, president and CEO, Dynam Consulting
Get to the office first.
"There are two main reasons for arriving early at work, aside from the fact that it will make you a more productive person. First, it motivates your employees to do the same. When you're the first at the office, you are setting a work ethic example that trickles down to every one of your employees. Secondly, arriving before your employees do allows you to greet them as they walk in the door. Your office is your home away from home. And if you're the first person there, you assume your role as the host.I find that a warm, welcoming work environment increases satisfaction and longevity among my employees, and contributes to a productive work environment." –Shannon Hematian, co-founder and CFO, Pip Tompkin Studio
Give the benefit of the doubt.
"Given today’s emergency-ridden culture, it's easy to react and not respond to your employees, especially if they aren't doing what you think they should be doing in the way you think it should be done. Taking the time to be curious about why an employee acted the way they did, or how they came to the strategy they arrived to, will give you the key to unlock the secret of how to develop your employee and course-correct when necessary." – Esther Weinberg, owner, MindLight Group
Be a mentor, not a parent.
"Remember, you are not your employees' parent — you're their boss, not their mommy and daddy. But that doesn't mean you can't hear them out when they need your advice and mentorship." – Arlene Howard, owner and CEO, Arlene Howard Public Relations
Invest in your employees.
"To be an effective leader, you need to start at the heart of the company: your employees. I firmly believe happy and engaged employees do great things. Invest in them, and provide a clear picture of where the company stands and where it is headed. The critical first step is creating a vibrant company culture where people are motivated, and where collaboration is fostered and healthy lifestyles are encouraged." – Bruce Cazenave, CEO, Nautilus
Admit when you're wrong.
"It may be counterintuitive, but admitting that you're wrong doesn't have to be a sign of weakness, even in the often-competitive atmosphere of today's workplace. In my experience, it actually makes you a stronger leader. Practice advertising, rather than hiding, your mistakes. People trust you more when you're open about your imperfections." – Alan C. Fox, president, ACF Property Management
Be flexible about working from home.
"Prioritize people over place. That means hire incredible people and give them the freedom to work from wherever they work best." – Mark Gilbreath, founder and CEO, LiquidSpace
"Listen and observe more. Talk and multitask less. We all give clues as to what is going on internally on a regular basis. Those clues give great insight into how to communicate with your employees more effectively. Focus as much on "how they say it" as what they say, and observe nonverbal communication, tonal and pitch changes, and changes in regular communication patterns, to see potential issues before they arise." – Matt Eventoff, owner, Princeton Public Speaking
Hold slackers accountable.
"Hold everyone accountable. The biggest thing that demotivates a workforce is the wrong (slacker) people in place not being held accountable and the good people have to carry everyone and do all the work." – Brian Braudis, founder and president, The Braudis Group Consultants [See Related Story: Quiz: Do You Procrastinate Too Much at Work? ]
Make things more exciting.
"One of the best traits of a good boss is to be able to build excitement among employees about the things they are working on. Every employee should know why we are doing the things we are doing, and should feel excited about it. This is also a good exercise for you as a boss. If you can't clearly articulate why the things we work on are so important, we are probably working on the wrong things." – Aytekin Tank, CEO, JotForm
Recognize your employees' strengths.
"Get good at spotting the strengths of others, including your direct reports, peers and your boss. Research indicates that paying attention to the strengths of others is a critical element in developing others to be more successful, as well as building effective partnering relationships." – Dr. Karissa Thacker, management psychologist
Lead with love.
"So many managerial tips focus on tactics. If more leaders led from the inside out — with love for their company, love for their customers and love for the people who help drive the company — first, decisions would be more clear (including how to address tough love topics). Leaders loving themselves is also imperative for success. Happy, healthy leaders have wealthier companies." –Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO, Web Marketing Therapy
Trust your team.
"[A] company's success is entirely dependent on the success of the team as a whole, and without them, they would have never gotten there. In order to be a better boss, you need to be able to recognize your weaknesses and trust that the team you've built will be able to complement those areas with their own strengths." – Ashley Morris, CEO, Capriotti's Sandwich Shop
Be understanding and empathetic.
"Empathy is the most important trait for being a good boss. It helps bridge that gap between what the business needs and what the employee needs. If you can't put yourself in the shoes of the employee, you will never be able to understand them, and, ultimately, help them become a high performer. After all, that is the role of the boss — build a team of high performers." – Ron Webb, executive director of open standards research, APQC
Openly praise employees.
"Praise your employees publicly for a job well done. When the time comes to give them developmental feedback, do it privately. No one likes to be embarrassed in front of their peers." – Kim Littlefield, senior vice president, Keystone Partners
Bond with your team.
"It's really easy to stay heads down, working nonstop, but at the end of the day, you are only as effective as the total output of your team. So stop working for a second and be human. Go out for drinks, food, laughs and learn more about the people you work with and the things that matter to them outside of work. You'll be happier, they will be happier and the team's output will be greater." –Jeremy Smith, co-founder and strategic advisor, SpotHero
"Step back and give your team members the freedom on how to hit [their] goals as opposed to micromanaging them. Give them counsel, but let them have the freedom to stretch." – Kathryn Prusinski, vice president of integration and development, Vision Alignment
Be a teacher.
"Years ago, it was enough to tell someone to do something. Today, it's imperative to share information [and] the reasoning behind your vision, and allow input from your team. Being open to input, being fair, setting guidelines, teaching employees and doling out tough love when necessary is how to be a better boss." – Elliot Fread, president and founder, BIMMY's
Stay open to feedback.
"Always remember that leading a team is a privilege. A good boss must always take the time to help people learn new skills and remain open to both positive and constructive feedback from any member of the team." – Aaron Charlesworth, vice president of marketing, Vonage Business Solutions
Thank your employees.
"Say 'thank you.' [When] employees feel appreciated, they not only work harder, but they are more inclined to trust each other and their leaders; they are more motivated and engaged in their work; and they feel a larger sense of meaning and self-worth in their lives." – Eric Mosley, CEO, Globoforce
Have an open-door policy.
"Keeping your door open, or even setting up your office in a 'common cubicle,' invites more personal interaction with others, and you will be more approachable. By being more approachable, this can allow others to feel more vulnerable, which in turn, can make them be more willing to share their ideas, [and] be creative and productive." – Lou Solomon, founder and CEO, Interact
Help your employees grow.
"A great manager [is] invested in sustaining employee engagement by keeping employee career progression in mind with opportunities for learning, job growth and career development." – Dave MacKay, president, Ceridian
Offer emotional support.
"What can really set you apart is by supporting them when they are struggling personally. Every one of us has had to deal with a sick child or parent or illness, and a truly good boss will make you realize that family comes first and will find ways to cover your work so you can concentrate on what's most important." – Elizabeth Spayne, executive vice president of marketing, WinterWyman