There is no single answer to the question “how to be a good leader.”

This is because every leader and team is different. People will value and respond to varying characteristics, and managers will demonstrate a range of leadership qualities too. It is the ability to respond to these unique needs that make managers good leaders and enable them to deliver superior employee experiences, which translate into improved customer experiences.

In our individual pursuit to become better managers we can take inspiration from the common traits and characteristics of good managers. Doing so provides a framework for us to focus our own efforts around.

However, for us to be the absolute best managers we can be we need to ask a different question.

The question the best people managers ask is “what are the issues my employees and teams care about most?”

Being able to understand the moments that matter to employees allows managers to make a difference when and where it counts. This could be something as simple as allowing employees to work from home to facilitating external training around areas of interest relevant to their job, or providing specific perks and benefits.

Ultimately, a great employee experience is the sum of many parts. The best leaders understand this and are ready to rise to the occasion in each moment.

To uncover the issues employees care about the most, the best managers follow five simple rules. This allows them to create programs that are in the best interests of employees and aligned to the strategic needs of the business.

The five rules all good leaders follow are:

  1. Set a vision – Every leader has a clear definition of success. This enables managers to unite their team behind a common set of goals or purpose, and provide an employee experience that supports it.
  2. Understand strategic priorities – Being a good leader that drives performance requires managers to consider the needs of employees, customers, and the business. To overcome this, the best managers map out the competing priorities of each group in action plans. This allows them to collectively balance the needs of employees, customers, and the business to deliver outcomes in the best interests of all involved.
  3. Determine the preferred values, behaviors, and metrics – Put simply, this is how success will be measured and the characteristics to cultivate. For example, it might be boosting sales, improving CSAT scores, increased employee satisfaction, or faster resolution times.
  4. Lead from the front – Demonstrating how you want your team to perform and act reinforces behaviors and delivers action that drives change. It can strengthen team dynamics, which often results in better business outcomes.
  5. Prepare people for change – To get the team’s support, managers take time to explain why it deserves their energy, what they’ll get out of it, and how it will impact them. Giving people the why keeps them informed and motivates them to make a difference.

Guided by these rules, people managers – with the support of HR – can begin to build strategies and programs that uncover the insights they need to lead their teams with impact. The insights unlocked by these programs influence how, when, and where employees are engaged, and the focus of the interactions. The result is personalized employee experiences that drive business outcomes and help managers become better leaders.

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