10 Tips To Becoming A Respected Leader

Defining what good leadership means is hard. Many times we see that leadership may be put upon someone by giving them a title, but this does not necessarily mean they will be good at it or earn respect from others. In order to be a respected leader, the person needs to have followers.

You can’t lead something if no one believes in you or follows you.

Think of people you have worked with or known in the past who held the title of manager, boss, or leader but really did not have command of anything. They had a title, but no one respected or followed them. On the other side of the coin, you don’t even need to have the title to be a good leader. Good leaders can make people want to follow them. I have come across many leaders in my life that did not have the title but had a following, because others respected them and believed in them. If a person wants to be a better and more respected leader, where should they focus their energy?

Here are the top ten actions to take if you want to become a truly great leader:

1. Recognize that leadership is not a position or title, it is an action or an example.

People who lead others do it out of their heart. They know that they can help others, guide them, motivate them, and lead them by example to show them the right way. Think about the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do.” A leader does not think that way. A good leader, no matter what the job title is, will have a different motto: “Lead by example.”

2. Have a collaborative leadership style.

There is a difference between a leader and a boss. Leaders think of themselves as part of the team. They use terms like “us” and “we” and then get involved with others to motivate and help. They don’t place blame or take credit. They give credit and acknowledge others’ work and ideas.

3. Understand the bigger picture.

Leaders don’t just look at their job exclusively; instead, they look at the business or company as a whole. They look for ways to improve it and find ways to help the business and everyone in it to keep growing.

4. Communicate effectively.

Most great leaders are also great communicators. Think back to great leaders in history and with almost all of them, you will find that their ability to communicate their thoughts and expectations was a key reason they could get their message across and motivate others to follow them.

5. Be able to work alone or with a team.

Leaders are self-motivated as well as good at motivating others. Again, great leaders lead by example, which means they get in and work hard without any instruction from others when that is necessary, but they can also work together with a team to get even greater results.

6. Instead of focusing on problems, always look for solutions.

People who focus on problems will only see problems everywhere and not be able to see what is actually working well. Unfortunately, someone who is always pointing out what’s not working will get a reputation for being negative or critical. Those that identify issues but also generate ideas to improve or fix them have a better likelihood of getting others to follow them and offer help with the problem.

7. Respect what others bring to the table.

The mentality of a good leader is that others have value and contribution too. They respect others and value their ideas and work. Those that try to just look out for themselves will not be followed by anyone else, as they know the person will always take the credit for themselves.

8. Take responsibility. Taking responsibility doesn’t necessarily mean taking blame.

Many people incorrectly believe that these two words have the same meaning, but they don’t. Blame is when someone has to be named as wrong for something. Responsibility is when someone does what is expected of them and accepts the consequences of their actions.

9. Take initiative instead of waiting to be told what to do.

There are “doers” and there are “followers.” People who don’t need supervision and can make things happen on their own accord are more likely to gain the trust and respect of others.

10. Be honest and demonstrate high integrity.

This type of person always tries to make the right decision. When others are looking for direction, they know that their outcome will more than likely be a positive one if they follow this person.

There are some people who just have all these traits naturally, and those are the natural born leaders. However, not everyone has all of these from the start.

I heard an example recently that sums it up really well. If you were in a building full of people, and the building suddenly started to catch on fire, who would you follow to safety? Would you follow someone just because their title had the word “manager” or “boss” in it, especially if you did not trust their ability to get you out of the building? Or would you follow the person that you knew made smart decisions and had the highest chance of getting you out of the building quickly and safely, regardless of their title?

In the dental office, we have a lot of different types of people that work together with varied titles, experience, education and personalities. Not all of them are titled as a leader or boss, but if I were to ask the team who they go to for guidance and help, certain people would always be the person listed first. They have become unofficial leaders in the office. In contrast, some people on the teams have a title that makes them feel that others “should” follow them but fail to demonstrate the qualities needed to earn that following.

The great news is that all of these traits can be learned and improved upon over time. You can learn how to be a great and well-respected leader, no matter what your title says. We need more leaders in the dental office. Honestly, we need more great leaders in the world right now! So, is it your time to step up?

Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson, BS, MS, FAADOM is the founder and driving force behind Front Office Rocks, and the leading provider of on-demand virtual training and resources for dental practices.