How to become a better leader

How to become a better leader

Business Series: Volume 1

How would you describe an effective leader? Must he/she have exceptional training, an MBA, a sharp mind, a reservoir of brilliant ideas? What about emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your emotions and the emotions of others. This means that you are self-aware, you are aware of how emotions affect productivity and you are able to manage these emotions to influence the business outcome. Far from being a power play, emotional intelligence must come from a genuine place since any other emotionally intelligent person can quickly spot the forced attempts at EI.

In order to become a better leader, you first need to get to know yourself. Ultimately, your management style will be determined by your personality, your experiences and your values. Once you get to know yourself, don’t be afraid to share who you are with others. They will appreciate your honesty and openness and see you as a relatable leader.

Your next step is to get to know your team; really know them. Unlike numbers, people are not predictable. There is no standard equation when building a professional relationship. You can’t fake this step so take the time necessary to get it right. Among the areas of focus in getting to know your team are: who they are, what they think, how they perceive things and what is important to them.

Once you get to know your team, create individual relationship goals to put this new knowledge into action. While many leaders take the time to create lofty business goals, very few leaders see the importance in creating a relationship goal with each employee. A relationship goal is an outline of what you wish to accomplish by spending time with this employee. Do you want to mentor a successor, help them become an expert in a certain area of deficit? Whatever you want to do, relationship goal setting will help you to be more effective in achieving that goal.

You final step is applying your new found insightfulness on a daily basis in the workplace. Emotional Intelligence has the potential to improve your effectiveness in conflict resolution, motivating others, knowing when to push and when to hold back and understanding when to display empathy. A consistently open channel of communication will help you to gage your effectiveness and allow you to continue to grow as a strong and confident leader.

Getting Started

A huge part of emotional intelligence is asking tough questions upfront. This involves doing a bit of introspection as well as canvassing the opinions of your team. Here’s a three step process to get you started.  Good luck!

Step 1

Get a piece of paper and take our quiz! Rate yourself honestly on a scale of 1-5. Five means always and one means never. Take your time, if you’re being honest with your answers.


  1. Honesty: I am honest in business and in life in general
  2. Delegate: I trust my team and I delegate well and follow up on the items that I’ve delegated to ensure they are well done.
  3. Communication: I’m an excellent communicator; my emails, meetings and projects plans are clear, straight to the point and accomplish their objectives.
  4. Confidence: I am confident even when things go wrong and even when my team has lost confidence.
  5. Commitment: I stay committed to the task long after my zeal is gone and the real hard work has begun. I don’t just lead, I lead by example.
  6. Positive Attitude: I am always positive. I’m upbeat and focused on the best possible outcome.
  7. Creativity: I am able to take a less than ideal set of circumstances and create an ideal outcome.
  8. Intuition: I have great emotional intelligence and I know when to follow the rules and when to follow my gut.
  9. Inspire: I am clear on what the vision is and I can sell the vision to my team as well.
  10. Approach: I understand that not all people are the same and I manage each member of my team with a style that is tailored to their unique needs.

Step 2

Now take this same quiz and give it to your direct reports. Ask them to rate you and fill it in anonymously. Use an electronic format to preserve anonymity. You can use a tool like if you’d like.

Step 3

Read the responses and match them up with your own. It is important to focus on both the good and the bad results. The good tells you what you need to keep doing and the bad tells you what you need to work on.

Final Tips

Hopefully this only needs to be a one-time thing. This dialogue is actually more effective in person, so build towards that goal.  Don’t be too hard on yourself, but don’t go too easy either.  No one is a 5 but no manager should be a 1

Follow my blog at: for more training nuggets for the workplace. Also, feel free to leave some feedback and tell me if this process worked for you.

Reference: Lou Solomon. (June 24th 2015). The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from


4 thoughts on “How to become a better leader

  1. Ngumabi says:

    Wow thanks for writing this post
    I love the part you talked about evaluating yourself as a leader.
    I really learnedly from this
    Thanks for sharing



    1. Marsha Dawkins says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad you liked it. Feel free to make suggestions on what you’d like me to write on next.


  2. Angel says:

    These are great tips for leadership! Confidence, positive feedback, being open to share knowledge & kindness have always helped me gain the respect of colleagues and anyone I manage.
    Thanks for the post!


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