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  • Writer's pictureJenn Donahue

3 Ways to BE an Effective Leader


leader being followed by team on horizon with sunset

One thing business leaders get wrong (and often) is that they are misunderstanding why their employees are leaving their company. Many leaders assume it is for money, but in reality, it’s not about the money at all. Employees leave because they no longer have hope or trust in their boss, team, position or company.

58% of people would rather trust a complete stranger than their boss. That’s a problem! If you’re a leader in business, it is imperative that your team trusts you. But establishing trust with your team isn’t always easy.

If you want to retain your employees, grow your business, and create a loyal team around you, you have to learn how to be an effective leader and that starts by establishing trust with your team.


When leaders don’t establish trust with their team, it can cause their business to fail.


Effective leaders know how to motivate their employees and be the guide that will lead their team to success.


What I’ve found in my many years of leadership in both the military and civilian sectors, is that there are 3 “BE’s” to becoming an effective leader: be self aware, be proficient, and be yourself. If you can do these things, you’re on the right track to building a team with trust and loyalty.


Your business and employees deserve to grow on a foundation built on trust and know that you can lead them into a successful and positive future.


Here are the “3 BE’s” that are your keys to becoming an effective leader.


1. BE Self Aware - Find Your Leadership Style

I know what it’s like to work for a team leader who lacks self-awareness. It’s frustrating, tiring, and feels like you are beating your head against a wall most days. Don’t be that boss!


Your company’s success starts with YOU. You have to first understand who you are as a leader before you can successfully lead a team. This means taking an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Where do you thrive? How do you communicate best? In what ways do you shine as a leader?


Don’t stop there.


Know your weaknesses too. What happens to your strengths when you’re under a lot of stress or pressure? What types of situations trigger you? What areas do you need to be constantly improving?


The Clifton Strengths Finder online survey is a great place to start. It identifies certain areas of your life that you are very strong in and uncovers the weaknesses that go hand-in-hand. It’s important to understand how your strengths can turn into weaknesses and what circumstances might cause the switch so that next time when the situation arises, you can navigate it with awareness and ease.


Knowing yourself and remaining aware of your greatest and not-so-great traits will allow for exponential personal and professional growth. You will be the example your team wants to follow to achieve whatever goals your company has set.


When you create a better individual within yourself, others see it and they are inspired to become a better individual too.


2. BE Proficient - Cultivate a Culture of Growth

Even if you’ve climbed a tall ladder of success in your company or industry, it’s important that you never stop learning. As engineers, there is always an evolution of our craft. If you aren’t the smartest person in the room, make sure you know who that person is… and learn from them! Find out what they know and how they might understand a topic or project better than you.


In order to empower others to do what you can’t, you must first understand what you’re proficient at and what others are proficient at.


Allow room for growth in your team, encourage extra “after hour” learning through webinars, courses, and online workshops. Invest in yourself and invest in your team. Figure out what teams and individuals crave learning and give it to them! Send your people to a conference, hire a team leadership speaker, or give extra resources for their projects. This way, you’re not only strengthening their strengths, but you’re also establishing trust and respect with them as your leader. Through continued learning, you can build an empowered, confident, and independent team and be the guide that helps them achieve their goals.


If you continue to improve your skill set both personally and professionally, you will be a leader your team wants to follow. By continually learning your weaknesses and strengthening your strengths, others will want to do the same.

3. BE Yourself - Lead Authentically

Being yourself might sound either like a no-brainer or incredibly uncomfortable.

When you’re in a leadership position, you have a spectrum that you can operate within. If you can understand your spectrum, you can successfully operate within it. If you can understand who your people are, then you can be flexible in your leadership style to create positive outcomes.


Showing up as your authentic self in a leadership position isn’t always easy. You might think you have to be or look a certain way to gain respect. However, that’s usually not the case. People appreciate and respect you when you’re being the real you. If you can find ways to integrate your genuine self (whether it’s warmhearted, witty, or weird) your team will see you as someone they trust because you’re choosing to be open and vulnerable with them.


It’s important to rely on your strengths and weaknesses here too because there’s nothing worse than a boss trying to be someone they are not.


I once thought that having charisma was something all leaders needed to have to be successful. I tried to be a charismatic leader and it was exhausting! I’m a quiet leader and once I understood that, I stopped trying to be someone I’m not and I let the charismatic people be charismatic while I lead with empathy and encouragement.


There is a place for every type of leader. It is up to you to discover your authentic leadership style and BE it!


Your Success Starts With You

As leaders, we are the forward thinkers, the line pushers, and the innovators leading our team into a brighter future. I believe that everyone can be a successful leader and I’ve spent my career as a leadership and communication speaker and mentor building trust in teams and helping other leaders do the same. And I’ve seen extraordinary results.


Embracing the “3 Be’s” is a great first step to becoming the leader your team needs to thrive.


With the tools, battle-tested insights, and internal transformations I bring to the table as a professional leadership speaker, you will be able to build trust more effectively with the people around you and watch your business grow to new heights.


I challenge you to try these 3 BE’s to more effective communication and email me directly the results you see!

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