A Checklist for Becoming a Better Leader


“The most dangerous myth is that leaders are born- that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” – Warren Bennis

For organizations of all sizes, effective leadership is crucial for success. However, it can be a difficult journey becoming promoted into a leadership role for the first time. Many times, proper training and guidance aren’t provided which can make this a challenge and a stressful experience. Whether you are a sales representative who becomes a sales manager, a human resources assistant becoming a Human Resources Manager, or a director of operations becoming a Chief Operating Officer, you will have more responsibilities, more people to manage, and most importantly, more accountability to take into consideration. Regardless of what position you hold and who you manage, below is a checklist to transition into this role effectively:

1.    Routine Check-Ins: As two Forbes contributors suggest, “Creating smaller milestones helps leaders measure progress and reward results as the big picture comes more into focus.” Whether they are monthly, weekly, or quarterly, routine check-ins are an important aspect of leading a high-performing business unit as well as getting a struggling business unit back on track. Although your employees may understand what their end goals are, how to get there may be confusing which is why it’s important to maintain consistency with these meetings, recap performance and goals, and prepare for the future.

2.    Ask for Feedback: Whether known or anonymous, give your employees the power to tell you how you are doing in your role and what you could be doing better as their leader. Although some statements may not be as helpful as others, this will give you a true reflection on your leadership performance. After all, a recent study conducted by Zenker Folkman shows that the more a leader asked for input from staff, the higher a leader’s success as a leader.

3.    Celebrate wins, large and small: Compensation, benefits, and other company perks are nice, but research conducted by O.C. Tanner Institute shows that meaningful recognition is the number 1 way to empower your employees to keep up the great work. Too often, stress on the job can cause managers to lose sight over their most important resource; their employees. Regardless of how things are going in the organization, it’s important to recognize and celebrate the great work your employees do rather than stressing over what is not going well.

4.    Lead by example: As Mahatma Gandhi’s saying goes, “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.” If you find yourself demanding tasks and results out of your employees without ever having done them yourselves, you lose credibility and trust. With 82% of people not trusting their boss according to a recent global survey, the lack of leading by example is a serious problem.

5.    Allow employees to create an action plan: Rather than telling your employees what to do every hour, day or week, allow them to come up with their own action plans that align with your expectations and their responsibilities. The primary reason behind this suggestion is to avoid micromanaging at all costs. Trinity Solutions’ recent study shows that 36% of the sample quit their jobs due to micromanagement, 71% stated that it interfered with their jobs, and 85% said it impacted their morale negatively.

Being appointed to a leadership role is a major responsibility and it must be handled with care. Your employees are counting on you for support, guidance, as well as personal and professional development. When you give them what they need, they work more effectively, the organization performs at a higher level, and you are fulfilling your responsibility as a leader.

Thanks for reading,

Shamit Patel, Sirma Enterprise Systems


Barnes, L. 2015, March 31. Damaging Effects of Micromanagement. Retrieved from http://patimes.org/damaging-effects-micromanagement/

Chamorro-Premuzic, T. 2016, September 21. What Science Tells Us About Leadership Potential. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/09/what-science-tells-us-about-leadership-potential

Fallon, N. 2017, May 11. 8 Ways to Become a Better Leader. Retrieved from http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4991-effective-leadership-skills.html

Hendricks, D. 2014, March 31. Are You Asking For Feedback From Your Employees? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhendricks/2014/03/31/are-you-asking-for-feedback-from-your-employees/#401b54a1514e

O.C. Tanner. 2017. What causes great work? Retrieved from http://blog.octanner.com/infographics/what-causes-great-work-infographic

Sturt, D. & Nordstrom, T. 2016, Jan 7. 7 Leadership Mistakes To Avoid in 2016.Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidsturt/2016/01/07/7-leadership-mistakes-to-avoid-in-2016/#4d472c744c90


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