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10 Tips to Become a Better Leader

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How to maximize your leadership skills

When a business hits some turbulence, an executive's instinct is sometimes to focus on greater efficiency and productivity by tightening control. But the truth is that giving up authority and giving employees independence can improve innovation and success, even during crises.

With that in mind, we have put together a number of tips to help you or someone you know become a better leader in the coming months.

Build better relationships

Great leaders know the value of relationships. They know who people are, what is important to them, and what motivates them. Knowing this will help you understand their goals and how you can support them. When you help people, they will care about you and your goals in return.

Get to know people on a personal level

If you take the time to get to know people you like, they will no doubt come to like you, too. Furthermore, it is always nice to ask people about their families and interests. You will also find that, if people like you, they will be more open to helping you and taking the extra time to get things done.

Develop a mentoring program

Great leaders know that mentoring someone will not only help develop that person's career, but also help leaders refine their skills.

Be upbeat and stay positive

In the business world, it is easy to be negative and criticize what everyone does, especially in this economy. As a leader, you need to stay positive and find ways to do things better, faster and more effectively. It is important to remember that people are not perfect, and while you do need to address poor performance, great leaders know the value of acknowledging when people are doing things correctly. Doing so builds a positive work environment that helps make people feel appreciated.

Know your strengths

We each have strengths and weaknesses. You will find that it is better to spend time working on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. By doing this, you can rise to the expert level sooner than you would by working on your weaknesses. Bottom line: Know what you are good at and keep at it.

Surround yourself with people who complement you

As mentioned above, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Great leaders know what their weaknesses are and find people who support their shortcomings. Not because they need to cover their weaknesses, but because they know the benefit of having a strong team - and when the team wins, everyone wins.

Look at your career, not so much at the company

Great leaders know they are the ones who will create their own career paths; therefore, they will work to make it happen. Once they become experts in their selected careers, they find that they can go almost anywhere they want to go.

Respect your people

If you do not like to be around people, let alone lead people, then do not take a leadership position. Conversely, if you do want to be in a leadership position, start building relationships with people by respecting what they do. Additionally, great leaders never miss an opportunity to learn more about the people behind them. Great leaders never skip an employee's birthday gathering or a holiday party because they are too busy.

Balance your work and personal life

Great leaders are often driven people, but they know the key to success is to balance work and family. Life is too short to live at your job. One day, when work is winding down, you will think to yourself, "I wished I had done things differently." Unfortunately, it will be too late to do so. Great leaders set career boundaries and know when to spend more time with family and friends.

Evolve into someone you aspire to become

Great leaders know they are individuals and that, as an individual, they are not required to be like everyone else. They also know they can take the path less traveled, as the risk is sometimes greater than the reward. To be a great leader, one must become a person of great interest who has great skills.

Executive summary

Great leaders know the power of relationships, a positive attitude and learning from people they respect. They also know what to say, how to say it and when to say it so that during tough times things get done.

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Cindy McSwain

Senior Vice President
Outsourcing Services

Cindy McSwain leads AGH’s outsourcing services group. Her team provides payroll, accounting, funds disbursement, controller, and other financial outsourcing services to numerous clients throughout the U.S. Prior to directing the outsourcing group, Cindy served AGH’s audit clients for 10 years, working with a wide range of middle-market, closely held and family-owned clients.

Her current clients cross many industry sectors, including manufacturing, distribution, restaurants, retailers, medical, and not-for-profit. She has participated in numerous SEC filings and public registrations and has experience in mergers and acquisitions. Cindy is a certified public accountant and a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Kansas Society of Certified Public Accountants.

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