A manager is not necessarily a leader. Why? Leaders earn that title based on their actions. One is not automatically a “leader” when they get the “manager” title. A true leader is someone who treats people well and inspires others to do their best work and be successful.

Therefore, to be a leader, title is insignificant. Leadership can be found at all organizational levels in order to drive success across teams. How can you cultivate your leadership skills? It’s easier than you think.

Express gratitude.

This is so simple, yet so few people do it. Children are taught to say “thank you,” yet many adults seem to have lost that ability, especially in a work environment. Sending a simple “thank you for what you do everyday, and have a wonderful weekend” on a Friday to individual employees will instantly boost morale. The cost? $0. Stopping by to say “thank you” at the end of the day to each of your employees? $0. You are likely to increase loyalty exponentially, and in difficult times, they are more likely to stick around. If you model this behavior it’s likely to be replicated and spread amongst colleagues as a shining example, which in turn will boost morale among countless employees beyond your own team.

Consider different perspectives.

Surprise! In order to be a leader, you must consider your staff’s needs rather than just your own. The book Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success by Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch and Sean Lynch states that considering another person’s perspective can inspire you to be more thoughtful in your interactions. This will help you advance your relationships with colleagues above and below your level.

Get to know your people.

Get to know your staff as people. A small bit of information can go a long way. Spark smartly advises that you should seek to know the following information about your employees (you may know some answers, but perhaps not all):

  • What is their background?
  • Why did they choose this career or employer?
  • What is their family situation?
  • What are their interests?
  • What makes them happy?
  • How can I add value to this relationship?

The better you know your people – and reward them according to their motivations and interests – the more invested they will be in doing great work for you and the company.

Be proactive in times of need.

Knowing your employees better will enable you to anticipate their needs, which is key to being an exceptional leader. Spark’s authors advise that you should not wait for people to ask for help or come to you in a challenging situation – simply help them when you have the opportunity and resources to do so. Do not expect to get anything in return. Make sure you take proactive measures when necessary with all employees and not only a select few. This kind of behavior will go a long way toward breeding a loyal staff and company culture. Such selfless actions build community and belonging outside of the office in our neighborhoods and religious centers, among other institutions. The same is true in a workplace where you wish to retain your employees and be viewed as a leader.

While you are developing your leadership capabilities, there are some important areas where you need to constantly check yourself. Spark says to always focus on empowering your staff. In addition, as a leader, you must be consistent. Without credibility among your staff, you will get nowhere. Most importantly, Spark’s authors argue that to be seen as credible you must be an “always” rather than a “sometimes” person. No matter your seniority, colleagues need to be able to count on you all the time and not have doubts about your reliability in any situation. Once they lose confidence in you, it may be impossible to gain it back.

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Marcelle Yeager helps people land jobs that get them to the next level of their career. Through her company Career Valet, she works with mid- to senior-level professionals on their branding strategy and job search materials to secure new roles. She co-founded a second business in 2015 called ServingTalent, where she finds jobs for talented military and Foreign Service spouses. Marcelle has spent over six years living and working abroad. She can be reached at myeager@careervalet.com.