Are You Investing in Becoming a Better Leader?

If there was ever a time when leadership in business really counts, now is that time. Everyone from customers and employees to third-party vendors are looking to business leaders for cues on how to weather unpredictable market conditions and other changes affecting business and society.

We believe that trust, respect, and a collaborative spirit constitute effective leadership at Baillie. We work hard to continue progressing as leaders, both within our organization and beyond. DSC0759

Are you doing all you can to improve your own leadership skills? If you feel ready to work on becoming a better leader, here are a few tips we found valuable to keep in mind:

Be a role model. In all walks of life, people emulate the traits they regard most highly in their leaders. Maintain high standards for your own conduct, both in the workplace and in the public realm. Just as you hold others accountable for their actions, the same principle must apply to you as well.

Aim for high emotional intelligence. As BetterUp notes, “Being able to effectively manage your own emotions—and those of the people around you—is an important skill known as emotional intelligence.” For leaders looking to improve themselves, “it might be worthwhile to invest time in developing this skill.”

When others get swept up in a new business trend or some other work-related controversy, it’s up to you to keep a check on your emotions. Avoid rushing to judgment or hurrying to point fingers if something goes wrong. People are looking to you to keep a calm head even while things get challenging around you.

Make it clear you see yourself as part of the team. On the one hand, business leaders need to see themselves as separate from the workforce they lead. At the same time, as Indeed notes, rather than “taking a leadership stance 100% of the time, think of yourself as one of your employees.” The people you lead “are more likely to trust you and your leadership when they feel you are tuned in to how everyone interacts with each other.”

Practice agility. A key element of leadership is the ability to recognize when a particular initiative or other operational process is not working, and then pivot elsewhere. This is especially important during times of uncertainty, such as what we’re experiencing now. Conditions change all the time; a strong leader knows when to adapt to those conditions in order to keep moving forward.

Build leaders from within. Effective business leaders understand that “many times it’s more efficient, cost-effective, and morale-boosting to develop tomorrow’s leaders from within your present-day workforce.” Investing your own time in identifying and nurturing these potential leaders shows that you deeply value the contributions of your team. And when these “rock-star” employees show leadership potential, it’s up to you to look more closely at their experiences and ambitions, and to align those traits with your company’s long-range strategic goals.

The strongest business leaders understand they don’t have all the answers. They know when it’s time to relinquish day-to-day operations to their executive team, and use their precious time to hone the leadership skills they already possess, and acquire new skills for the challenges ahead.

For us in the hardwood lumber industry, leaders can be faced with a seemingly never-ending amount of decisions. Such as making difficult decisions regarding buying greene lumber, bidding on a hardwood timber tract, deciding on whether to saw Walnut or White Oak next or even something as basic as how to bring our hardwood lumber products to market. Strong leadership makes the difference between businesses that thrive and those that struggle to stay afloat. 

What strategies have you found successful in identifying areas in which you could improve upon your leadership skill set? We would love to hear your thoughts!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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