Whether you’re a junior member of the team or at management level, a continual learning attitude is key to career success.

If you want to fast-track your progress up the career ladder, it’s important to look to your true business leaders and learn from their actions. Not only will this encourage you to carry yourself like a workplace leader, but it will also highlight differences between good and bad management.

Here are eight key lessons to learn from business leaders.

1. How to motivate people

Watching your leaders, or considering past experiences with your manager, can give you great insights into the right things to say and do to motivate colleagues or direct reports.

What’s important to remember is that everybody is different – and motivational drivers can even change from week to week, depending on workload levels. While one person might benefit from tough love, others may require a gentler approach. Great leaders take the time to get to know their team members’ personalities and motivators, and how they each react to different communication styles. 

2. How to nail your organisational skills

Organisational skills are critical for most roles, and it’s important to learn what works for you from the outset so you can be as productive as possible. 

Business leaders – often the busiest or having the fullest plate compared to most staff members – will have many techniques about how to remain organised. Not all of these will work for you as we all have different styles of working. But having conversations with your manager and other leaders about how they stay organised – on a day-to-day level and when work gets incredibly busy – can quickly teach you about which approaches you’d like to try out and assess if they helped you stick to schedule. 

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3. How to have difficult conversations

Most people don’t enjoy having difficult conversations at work and find the situation awkward. However, these are unavoidable for managers, and it’s crucial to know how to approach these conversations delicately. 

Good business leaders take a diplomatic approach to difficult conversations and allow the individual to have their say. Talking through problems rather than dictating a change is more productive and will allow you to build better rapport with your team members.

4. How to say ‘no’ tactfully

Business leaders often negotiate with partners, clients, and third-party providers – it comes with the territory. At times, this means having to say ‘no’ to requests.

Good leaders know how to approach these situations in a way that doesn’t cause upset or worse, ruin relationships. For instance, rather than saying, “We can’t do this for you”, they might say, “We will review our current workloads and priorities and come back to you next week with a proposal to move this forward”. 

RELATED: How a leader can gain better engagement with their team

5. How to embrace change

Any workplace-related change can be unnerving, particularly when it’s significant. But the responsibility falls on the leader to guide their team through any changes, whilst boosting productivity and ensuring everyone feels comfortable within their role. 

A great leader will welcome times of change as an opportunity and provide the groundwork for their team members to be creative, innovative and resilient.

6. How to accept criticism

Criticism can be difficult to hear, even when it is constructive. Business leaders often receive the most criticism at work because they’re ultimately accountable and responsible for the business performance and the performance of their team. But a great leader knows how to accept feedback, learn from their mistakes, and use the experience to their advantage for a successful outcome next time.

7. How to treat people as individuals

Individual differences – and therefore experiences and insights – are what drive businesses forward to develop innovative ideas. The most effective workplace leaders embrace, and are highly considerate of, their employees’ unique personalities and working styles.

If you can learn how to do this as a manager, you’ll be rewarded with a team that’s motivated, feel comfortable sharing their input, and is committed to success.

8. How to be empathetic

Empathy is grounded in understanding rather than judgement, and it’s a trait shared by some of the most successful business leaders. In fact, studies have shown that empathetic leaders are rewarded with higher-performing teams, better quality work output and more loyal team members. Empathy is ultimately the ability to understand others’ emotions, so as you progress in your career and work with all sorts of people, you’ll need to continually develop this important interpersonal skill just like any other skill you learn and get better at on the job.

If you’re ready for a new opportunity to learn and apply some of these leadership skills, take a look at our latest jobs.

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