What’s one thing a manager can work on each day in order to become a better leader? Why is this important?

Busy manager managing projects

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

1. Honesty

Practice honesty with your team. Sometimes the truth hurts, but being honest is the only way that your team and company can evolve. Tell your team what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Honest, encouraging feedback is essential for any type of growth. Don’t be rude. Don’t be mean. Be honest, and your team and company will grow from it.

Shane Edgell, EdgellBIM

2. Time Management

One way we can all become better leaders is by learning how to manage our time. Despite what some people say, a good leader doesn’t need to work 60 hours a week. I suggest using a strategy called time blocking to plan out your day and learn how to get more done. Essentially, this technique involves breaking your tasks up into predetermined blocks of time, which is proven to boost productivity.

John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

3. Discernment

Discernment includes giving the benefit of the doubt and learning to read between the lines. It is important because it helps you know how to communicate, what questions to ask and what to do once problems arise. Because you are able to discern better, the guessing game happens less often and, hopefully, bias won’t be a problem anymore.

Daisy Jing, Banish

4. Self-Confidence

Leaders must accept the foundational truth that they are perfectly and wonderfully made, and they are exactly where they need to be. This will help those whom they lead to feel the same, thus creating an empowering environment. Build the people (starting with you) and allow the people to build the business!

Kelly Cardenas, Kelly Cardenas

Manager communicating projects

5. Transparency

To become a better leader, a manager should practice transparency. This fosters a communicative team that’s open with each other and doesn’t jump to conclusions. Without transparency from the leader, there won’t be transparency from employees. It’s important to practice what you preach and be honest with your team about the happenings of the company and what they can expect next.  

Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

6. Communication

I believe the key to strong leadership is communication. If you want to thrive in your industry, practice communicating consistently with the rest of your team. Not only will this set a good example for your employees, but it will also make it easier to manage large-scale projects that span across multiple teams.   

Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

7. Trust

Trust your employees, trust the process you create and trust in your own abilities. This is the lynchpin of good management. You cannot run a successful business without trusting in your decision making, from the big decisions to the small. If you make a mistake, do not let it stop you from continuing to trust in yourself.  

Matthew Capala, Alphametic

8. Listening

No matter who we are, we need to master the art of listening each day. I believe one of the highest forms of listening is understanding what’s not being said, or what the other party really wants, even if social restrictions might make it impossible for them to ask. For example, when studying negotiations, you might learn that people ask for money when they really want attention.

Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

Businesswoman doing creative thinking

9. Self-Reflection

The ability to self-assess and honestly reflect on the value you bring to your teams and projects is a great way to see where you need to improve and where your time can be best utilized. Managers should spend some time in the evening reflecting on the day and planning for the next one, constantly seeking to improve based on the lessons learned.

Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC

10. Empathy

A manager has to be sensitive to the needs of the entire team, and each person has their own unique point of view. The more you can understand and empathize with many perspectives, the better you can communicate and manage. You can’t always please everyone, but people will appreciate it if they know you’re considering their point of view.

Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

11. Self-Regulation

Managers have a lot on their plates, and learning how to self-soothe in times of stress helps a leader develop emotional acumen. Once a leader can manage themselves, they not only become role models for staff, but they also have the bandwidth to hit their KPIs.

Libby Rothschild, Dietitian Boss