10 Leadership Tools that Will Make You a Better Leader

Hayley Ramsey
Hayley Ramsey

HR Writer and Editor

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Leadership tools to make you a better leader

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Being a leader is tough. Not only do you have to deal with the processes and systems in place, but you also have to deal with emotions and people. It can feel like a minefield.

As a leader, you may have taken some time to consider your leadership style, as what seemed to work before isn’t working as you move forward. And that’s what every company needs — to move forward and adapt. As we return to the office post-COVID-19, the way we work has changed, and it’s time to put things in place to keep things moving in the right direction.

If you’re considering what changes to make, then we’ve put together a list of the best leadership tools out there to help you adapt and overcome the new challenges you’re faced with. And, ultimately, you’ll become a better leader for your team members.

So, here are a few leadership tools to utilize to become a better team leader.

1. Determine your personality type

Before you can start making any improvements, you need to know which kind of personality you have. While you could be shy and introverted in some situations, you could be outspoken and confident in others. By determining how you react in certain situations, you can better adapt when situations arise that are out of your control.

There are plenty of personality assessment tools to consider, such as the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator. According to Myers–Briggs, there are 16 personality types a person can fall into. For example, the ISTJ type stands for introverted, sensing, thinking, judging, and has the following personality traits:

  • Quiet
  • Serious
  • Earn success by being thorough and dependable
  • Practical and matter of fact
  • Realistic and responsible
  • Works logically and works towards things steadily, regardless of distractions

You can take the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator test online. Then, once you’ve discovered your personality type, you can learn more about yourself and your triggers, so you can deal with them more confidently as you progress through your career.

2. Understand your leadership style

If you’re not sure of your leadership style, you need to do some self-reflection. To do this, you can take a DISC Personality Assessment that will help you understand what drives your actions and behaviors, including what’s holding you back and what’s moving you forward. It’s a great way to gain insight into yourself so you can see how your leadership style affects those around you.

Scott Zimmermann, an executive performance coach, says: “Self-reflection and a willingness to adapt to others’ styles can really help to drive better organizational results. DISC provides powerful insights for leaders on how they can improve and adapt their work styles.”

Once you’ve discovered your leadership style, encourage your team to take the assessment too, so that you can gain more insights into their working style and can adapt your leadership style to each individual employee according to their results and how they work best. By doing this, you’ll improve team communication and the team productivity, too.

3. Assess your emotional intelligence

While you might have a high-level IQ, have you ever considered your level of EQ (otherwise known as emotional intelligence)? This term relates to how you deal with your own emotions and how you deal with other relationships in an empathetic way. The four main pillars of this concept are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

When you assess your own EQ, you can determine where on the spectrum you fall, and you can learn how to improve your emotional intelligence to become a stronger and more empathetic leader. In his famous “What Makes a Leader?” article in the Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman explained that great leaders are all alike in one crucial way — they all have a high degree of emotional intelligence. He goes on to say: “It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but […] they are entry-level requirements for executive positions.”

So, if you really want to succeed as a leader, this is a skill worth improving if you’re scoring low on the Institute for Health’s EQ test.

4. Learn your blindspots

If you truly want to become an effective leader, you need to work out your “blindspots”. A blindspot, in this context, is an “unrecognized weakness or threat that can hinder a leader’s success”, according to Robert Bruce Shaw, author of Leadership Blindspots [paid link]. These leadership weaknesses can derail you from success, often unknowingly, so it’s worth investigating and understanding your own blindspots so you can make sure this doesn’t happen.

For example, one blindspot could be overconfidence. Maybe you had success on a particular project that brought great success, so you repeat the previously used pattern in hopes of gaining the same result. However, this could mean you’re missing alternative solutions that could yield better results. To put it bluntly, you’re missing other opportunities because you have a blinkered view of the end-goal.

Once you’ve learned your blindspots, make sure to think outside the box when it comes to finding solutions to make sure you’re not missing something obvious.

5. Determine how you cope with pressure

While some people believe they thrive on working to tight deadlines and under pressure, that’s actually false. Being under pressure lowers our judgement, attention and overall performance, and, ultimately, increases stress levels. However, there are ways to overcome this. If you learn how you deal with pressure as it stands, you can determine ways to deal with the issues facing you so that it doesn’t affect your work and the work of your team.

Try taking the Institute for Health and Human Potential’s Performing Under Pressure quiz to see how well you can handle pressure and stress while at work. If you want to learn how to perform your best while dealing with work-life pressure, you can read IHHP’s book, Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When it Matters Most [paid link].

6. Get feedback from your employees

Another way you can gain insight into your leadership is by asking the people that it affects the most — your employees. Make sure you’re open to feedback from them, as this will give you the information you need to learn which areas to focus on improving to become the best leader you can.

Not only does this give you areas to improve on, but it also shows your employees that you’re engaged and interested in bettering yourself and your team. In fact, according to a study by Gallup, employees who are supervised by engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged and interested in their work than their unsupervised counterparts.

To get the feedback you need, you can create a Google Form with your own questions. Here are a few example questions if you’re not sure what to ask:

  • Do you have confidence in your manager’s effectiveness?
  • Does your manager provide you with constructive feedback that helps your performance?
  • Do you feel overworked?
  • Does your manager handle conflict well?
  • What could your manager do to support your performance and growth?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable do you feel talking to your manager about any problems that have arisen?

Once you’ve collated the feedback, analyze and use it to improve your processes. This kind of information is key to improving your leadership skills, as you’re going straight to the source for the information you need.

7. Evaluate your team

While you can gain valuable insights from your team about your own performance, make sure that you’re regularly evaluating your team’s performance, too. Their successes are partly down to your leadership, so it’s important to keep track of their successes and failures so you can see how you can adapt your working style to help them moving forward.

It’s also important to understand each individual in your team on a personal level. Each person will have their own working style and skills, and while one might thrive from autonomy, another might need more guidance and support throughout a project.

To do this, make sure you check in with your team regularly with employee appraisals and get project reports so you know where they’re at. You could also consider using project management tools so you can keep track of work that needs to be completed. If your team’s not meeting the goals and deadlines you set, it’s time to intervene and help those that need some guidance. This will show the team that you’re invested in them, and not just the outcome of the project.

8. Test your aptitude and personal skills

While the previous tests we’ve mentioned are quite simple in their analysis, taking a test that delves a little deeper into your numerical, linguistic, spatial, mechanical and error correction skills will help you to discover any hidden abilities you have.

One of the recommended tools to use is the Saville Assessment aptitude test. This tests a person’s aptitude and personal skills to provide a detailed report showing their strengths and weaknesses. The results are more complicated than the MBTI and DISC assessments, but will give you much more detail to narrow down your shortcomings and learn where to improve.

To complete this test, you can request a free trial demo, and subscription prices vary depending on the number of tests you’d like to complete.

9. Do some leadership development training

Another way to improve your leadership skillset is to take some training — like the Strategic Leadership and Management Specialization [paid link] on Coursera — to further your knowledge in management. There are many courses available to you, both online and in person, but it’s best speaking with your current employer to see if they’re willing to offer you any training to improve your leadership skills.

These courses will teach you practical strategies to implement within your team that will ultimately increase productivity and the overall success of your team. You can use what you’ve learned so far about yourself and your leadership style to find a course that best suits your needs and helps you in the areas you struggle in — whether that’s your problem-solving skills or your conflict resolution skills.

10. Discover your unconscious biases

In an ever-changing and diverse world, unconscious bias can hold us back and put a stopper to productivity and success. Working in a diverse and multicultural team has many benefits, but what if you have unconscious bias that prevents you from being successful?

To discover any beliefs that you have (but aren’t aware of), it’s worth taking Harvard University’s Implicit Association Test. This test consists of 15 different tests that assess your unconscious bias against things like religion, gender, race, weight, sexuality and age. The tests will show you images and phrases, and you’ll be asked to categorize them as either “good” or “bad” as quickly as you can. Once you’ve completed the test and a short survey, you’ll be shown your results.

The results will show you if you do have any unconscious bias, and if you do, you can put steps in place to overcome this.

Final thoughts

There are many different leadership tools available out there for you to become the best leader you can for your team and organization. It just takes some self-reflection and action on your part to improve your leadership skills and to put things in place that will ultimately end in the success of your team.

Don’t be afraid to delve deep into your psyche to understand how you react to certain situations, as learning these things will help you understand and adapt when different situations arise.

Got any other tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments section below.