There may not be an “I” in team, but there is an “I” in disengaged.

What does this have to do with lead­er­ship? Well, regard­less of what, why and where you lead, you — as the leader — are direct­ly respon­si­ble for the engage­ment of those who fol­low you.  It’s up to you to decide whether you are lead­ing pos­i­tive­ly or neg­a­tive­ly — and whether you choose to focus on engage­ment or mere­ly output.

Effec­tive lead­er­ship results in increased employ­ee hap­pi­ness, engage­ment, and reten­tion rates.  But that’s not all. An engaged work­force leads to 17% high­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, a 10% increase in cus­tomer rat­ings, a 20% increase in sales, and 21% greater profitability.

Improv­ing lead­er­ship is an idea that can be dif­fi­cult to grasp in tac­ti­cal or prac­ti­cal ways.

The first step to improv­ing it is to define it.

Lead­er­ship is “the act of get­ting indi­vid­u­als aligned and mov­ing in the same direc­tion toward a desired outcome.”

A key to effec­tive lead­er­ship is the abil­i­ty to define out­comes, but then help­ing indi­vid­u­als put their tal­ents to use to get there.  The best lead­ers know their peo­ple and are aware of their strengths and also their weaknesses.

This lev­el of lead­er­ship is achiev­able when you work at build­ing the leader-mus­cles in you. Here’s a quick list of the traits that lead­ers pos­sess so you can begin exer­cis­ing these mus­cles in your next lead­er­ship workout:

Self-man­age: Make a list in your plan­ner or phone that out­lines your goals for the week and how you plan to achieve them. You can­not man­age oth­ers if you can­not man­age yourself.
Good com­mu­ni­ca­tion: Many of us have heard the phrase “You have two ears and one mouth so you can lis­ten twice as much as you talk.” An effec­tive leader “knows when to talk and when to lis­ten.” Lead­ers can com­mu­ni­cate com­pa­ny goals and tasks to all lev­els in the orga­ni­za­tion and can gath­er infor­ma­tion from all lev­els by listening.
Account­abil­i­ty: A suc­cess­ful man­ag­er gives cred­it where it is due and is not afraid to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for mis­takes made by them or the team. Shift­ing blame does noth­ing more than under­mine your team. Tak­ing all the praise does the same thing. Lead­ers even­ly dis­trib­ute both in a respect­ful manner.
Pro­mote team­work: When build­ing a team, it is impor­tant for the leader to cre­ate a cul­ture of team­work. This is beyond the task of shar­ing work­load, it is also the leader’s skill of team-led prob­lem-solv­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and reliability.
Set clear goals with vision: Good employ­ees can fol­low instruc­tions and com­plete tasks. Good lead­ers share vision and good employ­ees are moti­vat­ed by it. “Vision can be defined as a pic­ture in the lead­er’s imag­i­na­tion that moti­vates peo­ple to action when com­mu­ni­cat­ed com­pelling­ly, pas­sion­ate­ly and clearly.”

Just as you can­not build strong mus­cles in your body by occa­sion­al­ly going to the gym, you can­not shape lead­er­ship mus­cles by spo­rad­i­cal­ly flex­ing these traits—you have to work them out dai­ly. By con­tin­u­al­ly doing the hard work of lead­ing a team, you will be able to effec­tive­ly build your team’s cul­ture of respect and cooperation.