1. Connect and communicate
Leading a group of people requires a mutual sense of trust and understanding between the leader and the team members. As a first step toward that goal, leaders should learn to connect.
Terry "Starbucker" St. Marie , a Leadership writer and consultant, said that being what he calls a "more human" Leader requires positivity, purpose, empathy, compassion, humility and love. These key traits will put you on the road to genuine connections with the members of your team.
"Building a real personal connection with your teammates is vital to developing the shared trust necessary to build a strong culture of accountability and exceptional performance," St. Marie said. "With that culture in place, the team can achieve a successful business, a happy team and a fulfilled leader."
"I think the best leaders communicate often and are transparent (which is rare). The best leaders also customize communications to best suit the situation and the recipient," Brownlee said.
"This means they take the time to figure out which communication mode is preferred by each team member (e.g. are they a text person, email, phone, or face to face?) They're also great listeners and are authentically interested in other people."
Ruslan Fazlyev, CEO and founder of e-commerce solutions provider Ecwid, said that in all your communications, it's important to be genuine above all else.
"There are many leadership styles; there's no right and wrong," Fazlyev said. "But there's genuine, and there's fake. There's no following to fake leadership." [What kind of leader are you? Take a look at these different traits, skills and styles .]
2. Know your team
Once you've mastered the art of communicating and connecting with your team members, you can really get to know them — who they are, what they're interested in and what their talents are.
"You can know your mission and vision, but it is equally, if not more, important to know your people," said Joe Nolan, CEO of Motus Global, a company that provides biomechanical analysis for athletes. "If you care about and take care of your people, they will take care of your customers, and ultimately, you will accomplish your mission."
"A good leader knows his or her team better than anyone else — their strong skills and how they can be leveraged, as well as their weaknesses," added Alexander Negrash, director of marketing at cloud backup and storage solutions company CloudBerry Lab .
3. Encourage creativity
If you want your staff to do their best work, you need to give them the freedom to brainstorm and explore, Negrash said. Be open to your team's ideas and suggestions, and be ready to consider them and possibly develop them further.
"A good leader also gives the team new challenges, preventing them from becoming bored and complacent while showing confidence in their potential," Negrash added.
4. Focus on the positives
As much as leaders wish that their team's day-to-day operations could run smoothly all the time, they're bound to run into the occasional obstacle. Whether it's a minor miscommunication or a major error, the way a leader handles a negative situation says a lot about his or her leadership skills.
Robert Mann, author of "The Measure of a Leader" (iUniverse, 2013), recommended focusing on the good in any set of circumstances.
"Look at three positive things about a problem before you identify what makes it dissatisfying," Mann said. "The more you look at the positives in a problem, the more positively people react with one another."
In his research, Mann has found that, after individuals point out things they're happy with in a problematic situation, they don't feel so strongly about the problem and are better able to think clearly and solve it.
The same is true when a leader needs to improve his or her strategy. If you or a team member notices a particular course of action you've taken that just isn't working, figure out some things you've done in the past that have worked.
Similarly, Peter Fuda, author of "Leadership Transformed" (New Harvest, 2013), said that leaders can learn to focus on the positive by shifting from "critic" to "cheerleader" of their teams.
"This strategy involves moving from a focus on what is going wrong to what is going right," Fuda said. "Shining a light on issues and problems is an important part of transformation, but it must not become a leader's default setting.
An important mantra I have shared with almost every leader I have met is, 'Don't let perfect get in the way of better.'