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Sharpen These Skills To Become A Better Modern Leader

The last couple of years have forced leaders to step up, set good examples and make tough decisions that impact those they lead. Whether they were braving the economic battles brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic or examining diversity, equity and inclusion policies, leaders have been forced to adapt and learn new skills to manage today’s most challenging situations.

As successful executives and business owners, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council understand the importance of keeping their skills sharp to lead effectively in the modern business world. Below, eight members each elaborated on a skill they’ve recently learned that has helped make them a better leader.

1. Journaling

Journaling on a daily basis for a few minutes has helped me become a better leader. I’ll write down a few wins (or things I’m grateful for) from the day and this helps keep my confidence up, which pays off when things aren’t going the way I envisioned them. If your business isn’t growing in the direction you pictured it or you have an issue with a client or employee, journaling also helps to process these emotions and brainstorm solutions. – Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas

2. Active Listening

I’m constantly working on my listening skills because I believe it’s the fundamental skill needed for success in life, not just business. When you actively listen, not just hear, you’re able to practice empathy toward whatever or whoever it is that you’re listening to. As a leader, it’s fundamental that you practice empathy in business to promote reciprocity, otherwise your business simply won’t work. Too many lessons are learned the hard way by not actively listening to people, whether they’re employees, business partners, investors or consultants, so for me it’s crucial that I consistently work on my listening skills to ensure I am the best leader possible. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.

3. Storytelling

The power of storytelling has been a recent and useful addition to my toolkit as a leader. Storytelling let me bring mission, narrative and character creation to my new content venture. It gives people a way to “buy in” to who you are and what you’re doing. Specifically, if you make your personal mission public, a certain portion of your audience will understand that and watch just to see if you can pull it off. To harness the power of story, tell people inside and outside your company who you are (flaws and all), where you’re going and how you plan to get there. Even thinking of that journey as a story will help you communicate it a little bit better. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

4. Adapting

Easily the top skill I have learned recently is how to be more adaptable. The past year has been unpredictable to say the least. Being able to stay on top of everything, even when everything seems to be turning upside down, has boosted my leadership capabilities tenfold. I think this is largely because it instills confidence in my team. If I can keep my cool in unpredictable situations, so can they. The main way I’ve developed my adaptability is by preparing for (almost) all pitfalls that could rear their head. I’m not psychic, so I can’t say for sure what could go wrong, but I can have an idea. I just need to put my pessimist hat on and ask, “What would I do if xyz happened? How would I, and my team, need to respond?.” That kind of brainstorming is invaluable. – Nick Venditti, StitchGolf

5. Communicating

I have recently started communicating more with my employees. As an entrepreneur, I understand that my business can flourish only when my employees are happy at work. So I try my best to understand what they think about their work and if there’s any way I can help them make their work easier or improve their experience. This helps me in two ways: I can build a better relationship with my employees and it helps me boost employee satisfaction. That way, my employees are more productive and more efficient too. – Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite

6. Empathizing

If the Covid-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we need more empathy and compassion in our leaders. Many of our employees and customers are stressed, overworked and worried.  I’ve learned that in these turbulent times, we need a different kind of leader—one who shows empathy and compassion. I sincerely care for my customers and employees, and I think they can see that I seek to engage with them on more than just dollars-and-cents terms. From donating masks to the community to ordering lunch for my employees, it’s these actions of compassion and connection that remind us to stay true to our humanity. I have found that this has increased dialogue, collaboration and loyalty among my company and customers alike. – Shu Saito, SpiroPure

7. Managing Time

I’ve been making a concerted effort on time management. I find that the day-to-day running of a business has a way of derailing my day. I’ve tried many different tricks, including apps, timers and alarms. Nothing worked for me. Instead of berating myself for breaking time commitments to my work, I’ve started listing the reasons I did not stick to my schedule. This has helped me identify the little things that take so much time. I’ve found that it’s the random, spontaneous things that eat my time, like walking the dog. By identifying these, I can schedule the more important things into my day and recognize when something little is about to take my attention from what I need to do. This has helped me remain focused to provide the leadership I need to be successful. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

8. Working Smarter, Not Harder

One skill I’ve learned that has helped me better myself as a leader is to work smarter, not harder. When we first started UassistME, we had to wear many hats. That’s what it takes for many entrepreneurs to go from zero to one. Once our company started being profitable and growing into a medium-sized company, in order to go from one to two we had to remove hats and start delegating. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of not delegating and working harder instead of smarter and they run out of time and energy to focus on the key activities and ideas that will elevate their business to the next level. Delegating admin or time-consuming tasks has helped me focus on people and ideas and it has made me a better leader. – Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

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