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David Johnstone

Journalist and Business Writer

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How to Simplify Your Leadership in 7 Steps


Being an effective leader ultimately comes down to two things – leadership and communication. Of course, successful management is multi-faceted and often tricky, but at its core remains a simple truth – leadership is about an ability to influence and motivate other people, and to do this we must be able to clearly and effectively communicate with them.

While we tend to over-complicate our management styles, a simplification of our approach can have a dramatic impact on our ability to lead effectively. Simplifying our leadership not only forces us to focus on what’s important, but it also makes us seem more honest and genuine to employees; two characteristics that research shows people want most in their leaders.

So, how can we simplify our leadership? In this infographic we’ll cover seven effective ways to strip back and simplify our approach, ensuring we focus on what is most important in communicating with, and influencing, our team.

1.    Focus on Motivation, Not Fear
Many managers place their focus on instilling fear in their employees, but it’s far simpler and more effective to emphasis communication and collaboration. Team members who are afraid tend to do the least amount possible to avoid the whip, and will come to work stressed and unhappy. This not only contributes towards a toxic culture within the organisation, but will make employees far less productive. Great leaders use the carrot more than the stick, and motivate their employees with encouragement, communication and opportunities to grow and improve.

2.    Develop a Daily Routine
With so much to focus on, managers are often overstretched, tired and not leading to the best of their ability. You can dramatically simplify your work life by establishing a daily routine, meaning you have fewer decisions to make every day, and can focus on what’s important to your team and your business.

3.    Learn from Mistakes
Mistakes are an inevitable part of leading a team, but the best leaders don’t dwell on these mistakes, instead treating them as opportunities for learning and growth. Whether they’re your own mistakes or those of your employees, learn to forgive quickly and ensure mistakes aren’t focused on for extended periods. Try and see mistakes as opportunities for the whole team to gain valuable insight and experiences, and ensure team members aren’t embarrassed to own their mistakes when they’re made.

4.    Provide Simple, Clear Communication
An ability to effectively lead and motivate a team relies on clear, concise messaging that everyone understands. This, of course, applies to job roles, expectations and individual requests, but it should also apply to our core messaging. Incredibly, 85% of employees reported being unsure what their organisation was trying to achieve, which suggests a failure on the part of management. There are three basic messages that need to be focused on:

- Purpose
This is what you’re trying to achieve, and why your business exists. People are far more likely to feel motivated when they understand (and align with) a unified purpose, and they feel like what they’re doing is meaningful. It’s vital that this messaging is simple and clear.

- Vision
This is your vision for the team and the business. It should communicate where you are going and when you want to get there, rather than how you’re going to get there. Focusing on the where and when allows you to keep your message clear, simple and effective.

- Expectations
Many actively disengaged employees report that they don’t know what’s expected of them, and that can only be considered a failure in leadership. You need to clearly communicate the results you need to achieve (as a whole and individually), and these key results should be memorable, measurable and meaningful.

5.    Don’t Try to Please Everyone
While it’s important to try and maintain a happy, focused team, it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time. Instead, put your emphasis on treating people with respect and honesty, and approach all situations with an attitude of doing what is right for the business and the team as a whole. Beyond that, try not to worry about what people think of you, and they’re likely to reward this attitude with respect and understanding.

6.    Focus on Continued Improvement
One of the most effective, but straight forward ways of getting the best out of your team is to focus on creating a culture of innovation, training and continued improvement. This can go a long way to achieving many of your leadership goals, from overseeing a happy, motivated workforce to maximising productivity and ensuring your employees feel valued. Ensure team members have access to training resources and that they have opportunities to grow within the business.

One way to establish this kind of innovative, collaborative culture is to ensure you listen to, recognise and implement good ideas from your team. This helps encourage the organisational culture you’re aiming for and gives team members a sense of pride and ownership in their roles.

7.    Focus on Your Health
It can be surprisingly easy to neglect your own health and well-being when you’re focused on leading a team, particularly in high-intensity or stressful environments. However, by placing a strong emphasis on health (both physical and mental), you will find that you’re better able to successfully lead.

Ensure you make simple, positive changes to your physical activity levels, diet and sleeping habits to improve your overall health, and your ability to manage effectively and inspire your employees will improve.

Thanks to STL Training who's infographic was the inspiration for this article

Author Profile Picture
David Johnstone

Journalist and Business Writer

Read more from David Johnstone

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