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Updated Oct 30, 2023

10 Ways New Managers Can Be Influential Leaders

Learn how to elevate your management role and avoid leadership mistakes.

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Written By: Julie ThompsonSenior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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Table of Contents

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True leaders know the difference between influence and authority. Instead of leading by fear, influential leaders use their contagious passion and keen emotional intelligence to help their team reach its goals.

Leaders may not have all the answers. However, they’re willing to put in the work to learn and consistently take the best course of action for the organization. As their leadership skills mature, they also help employees reach their full potential and professional development goals. 

We’ll highlight 10 habits and best practices that help managers grow into influential leaders and share leadership mistakes to avoid on your professional journey. 

Did You Know?Did you know
The three C's of leadership include character, competence and communication. Others must respect your character, you should be able to handle any task you delegate and everyone must understand what's going on.

Ways to become an influential leader

Being a good leader involves self-awareness and a desire to improve. It also requires self-care. Ensuring optimal physical, mental and spiritual health frees you to focus on your team’s needs proactively.

Consider the following 10 habits and best practices for influential leadership.

1. Maintain composure in your leadership role.

graphic of a person near a lever

Everyday management situations can incite fight-or-flight emotions in any reasonable person. Predatory customers, leadership misdirection and toxic employees can create frustration and rising emotions in even the most seasoned managers. 

Maintaining your composure ― no matter the scenario ― is essential to leadership. Speaking respectfully, with tact and reason, is critical to being heard by others.

A true leader can respond to emotionally charged situations with a sound mind and calm disposition. They consider all possible effects of their response and act accordingly.

2. Exude confidence in your leadership role.

No matter the risk of success or failure, a leader exudes confidence and courage in situations others may question. Employees may fear a decision’s outcome but willingly support it when they witness confidence in their leader’s verbal and nonverbal messages. 

Demonstrating confidence in your decisions ― or your team’s decisions ― encourages confidence all around. When leaders are confident enough to take the helm, employees are inspired to follow.

TipBottom line
Leadership styles typically include givers and takers. To balance giving and taking leadership styles, be strategic about who you help, avoid people-pleasing and don't hesitate to ask for help.

3. Be accessible as a leader.

Accessibility can be challenging for new managers accustomed to working independently because they’ve only ever been accountable to their managers. In contrast, a leader is accountable to everyone they manage.

Strive to be accessible with an open-door policy in the office. Additionally, you must be proactive with your employees and actively seek opportunities to support their efforts and professional growth. To be a good people manager, come out from behind your desk, walk the floor and visit your team. Determine their roadblocks and commit to solving problems and setbacks together.

4. Motivate others in your leadership role.

graphic of two colleagues  high-fiving each other

Leaders don’t seek recognition. Instead, they offer it up freely. Give credit where it’s due and recognize others’ hard work and efforts. 

Leaders know recognition isn’t just about occasional rewards, employee bonuses and promotions. Recognition means identifying the daily accomplishments and tasks that benefit the team and its goals. When you convey an attitude of appreciation for workplace accomplishments, you help improve employee engagement, morale and motivation. 

5. Watch your body language in your leadership role.

Every move a leader makes is consciously or subconsciously evaluated by those they wish to influence. If you make body language mistakes that send the wrong messages, your team will see the disconnect and trust you less. 

For example, leaders know to stand when speaking and listening. They strike a neutral position that provides access to their space and demonstrates confidence in the message. When you stand with your arms crossed or speak with uncontrolled mannerisms, others become distracted and question your credibility.

6. Practice word awareness as a leader.

Leaders speak succinctly, using only words that add value to their message. You can perfect this skill by practicing the less-is-more method. 

Eliminate all nonwords, such as “um” and “uh.” Pause to transition between thoughts and topics, allowing listeners to consider what you say. Provide messages clearly and concisely to avoid rambling and confusion. Clarity builds confidence in listeners and credibility in the message.

FYIDid you know
What you say to your team is particularly crucial in crisis communication. Be transparent with your employees during a crisis ― especially customer-facing team members likely to face the brunt of the stress.

7. Respect others in your leadership role.

You can demonstrate respect to others with the following tactics: 

  • Welcome others to share their views: Share the floor with those who desire to share their thoughts, allowing them to ask questions, offer concerns and respond to events. 
  • Listen intently to whoever is speaking: Allow your thoughts to be clear and entirely focused on others. Ignore all devices that may attempt to steal focus from those you wish to influence.
  • Give speakers your undivided attention: Lean forward in your posture, make eye contact and refrain from formulating your response until they’ve finished speaking.

By giving this level of respect while others talk, you strengthen your credibility and earn your team’s respect instead of driving employees away with disrespect, thoughtlessness and rudeness.

8. Be grateful and humble in your leadership role.

Leaders understand that no success is achieved alone. While recognizing others is essential, a true leader’s gratitude and humility inspire others to act. 

When you acknowledge you can’t perform alone and show appreciation and humility toward your team, you encourage more focused, deliberate work. Humility demonstrates that you recognize that improvements are always possible, no matter how experienced you may be.

9. Continue your leadership development journey.

graphic of a group of people looking up at a leader

Leaders know there’s always room for improvement and never rest on their laurels. They seek feedback from trusted mentors and coaches to hone communication and management practices and continually improve business skills

Inspirational leaders want to know how others perceive them and work diligently to earn trust and credibility from their teams. 

10. Champion others in your leadership role.

True leaders know it’s their responsibility to mentor, guide, set performance goals and continually provide employee feedback. It goes further as you must also champion those ready to seek promotional opportunities and recognition.

TipBottom line
Seek out the best leadership books to inspire your leadership journey. Simon Sinek's Start With Why, Stephen R. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In are excellent places to start.

Leadership mistakes to avoid

Being a leader adds much weight to your shoulders. Even if you deal with conflict, provide adequate feedback, are the “fun” boss and take care of yourself, sometimes mistakes happen.

Consider the following leadership mistakes to avoid. Don’t beat yourself up if you make them ― the leadership growth process is never-ending:

  • Hiring too quickly: It can be challenging to fill your workforce so your company runs like a well-oiled machine. However, don’t rush the hiring process. Bad hires are costly and bringing on the wrong applicants can contribute to unnecessarily high employee turnover. Take the time to get to know your top applicants. Interview them more than once with different company leaders. Remember that you’re hiring for a cultural fit, not just skills. 
  • Not sharing your vision: As a business leader, it’s your responsibility to have a long-term vision for your company. Employees crave transparency in direction and feedback. Get your employees engaged by sharing long-term dreams and goals. Be sure to communicate that you want them to be part of the journey.
  • Burning out: Nobody’s perfect, but it takes humble leaders to admit their shortcomings. If you experience workplace burnout and mental, emotional, physical or spiritual crises, your leadership skills may falter and your team can experience significant setbacks. No matter how much work piles up, take time to eat healthily, exercise and get adequate sleep. Set an example by consistently taking vacations and time off so your employees feel comfortable doing the same.
  • Being an absentee manager: Nobody wants a micromanager. However, a fine line exists between being too controlling and being nonexistent. Be careful not to announce a new project, leave and assume everyone knows your expectations from point A to point B. Be available for questions and guidance and check in frequently so each part of the project moves forward efficiently.
  • Shifting blame: When you have success, celebrate the team that got you there. You wouldn’t have crushed the goal without each team member’s unique talents. When a failure occurs, always blame yourself first. Think about how you can refine your leadership skills and brainstorm with your team on ways to improve.
FYIDid you know
Building relationships with employees doesn't end after signing the employment contract. Take time to bond with employees by consistently listening, observing body language and offering praise.

Encourage others to act on your words

Every manager can improve by developing the right leadership habits and best practices. Even without a formal management training course, you can hone leadership skills with mindfulness and diligence. By doing so, you’ll elevate your position from manager to leader, gaining the influence and respect to change your organization and team for the better. 

Stacey Hanke contributed to this article.

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Written By: Julie ThompsonSenior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
With nearly two decades of experience under her belt, Julie Thompson is a seasoned B2B professional dedicated to enhancing business performance through strategic sales, marketing and operational initiatives. Her extensive portfolio boasts achievements in crafting brand standards, devising innovative marketing strategies, driving successful email campaigns and orchestrating impactful media outreach. Thompson's proficiency extends to Salesforce administration, database management and lead generation, reflecting her versatile skill set and hands-on approach to business enhancement. Through easily digestible guides, she demystifies complex topics such as SaaS technology, finance trends, HR practices and effective marketing and branding strategies. Moreover, Thompson's commitment to fostering global entrepreneurship is evident through her contributions to Kiva, an organization dedicated to supporting small businesses in underserved communities worldwide.
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