These 5 areas can improve your leadership skills

In my seven years working for our company, I have been able to improve in my leadership skills following these important qualities:

1. Connect. Be able to understand your team members’ backgrounds and their strengths and weaknesses.

I make an effort to ask our employees about their lives and be there for them through the ups and downs. I feel that being able to connect with people on a personal level will help you grow as a leader. It is important to understand your employees in a deeper way than just as a person who works for you.

2. Encourage ownership and innovation. By ownership, I mean responsibility, emotional commitment and the belief that employees are an integral part of a successful operation. If you want your employees to do their best work, you need to give them the freedom to think on their own.

A lot of times when I ask a question and I get a “no” for an answer, I will respond with “why not?” There is always another angle or way to try and get something accomplished, and I want my employees to keep an open mind and stay innovative.

3. Focus on the successes. When we have successes within our company, we will usually do something to celebrate. Whether it’s closing a new deal or completing a development, it is important to reward everyone who was involved throughout the project other than just at year end. This will also help gain comraderie among the entire team, who were involved in the project.

People will thrive on the positive feedback and will want to continue to win.

4. Passion is power. I don’t feel my work is a job because I love our team and what we do. Work becomes fun.

The idea of creating a development from the ground up, where people will enjoy spending their time living, working and playing is what excites me. The more challenging the deal, the more stimulated I get because I know how good it will feel when accomplished. This is an important mentality to instill throughout your company, and people will respond well to leaders who are passionate.

5. Evaluate and communicate. It is not only important to evaluate your team on an annual basis, but also have them evaluate you. This will allow you to become an even better leader if you can adapt to your team’s needs. The more you communicate, the better your team will be — and you won’t have to worry about whether tasks are getting done.

Brian Schottenstein is the president of Schottenstein Real Estate Group, one of the largest developer/builders in the Midwest, focusing on residential and mixed-use developments throughout the Midwest and Southeast. It also is the only three-time Developer of the Year by the Building Industry Association. Brian, a 2015 Smart 50 executive, focuses on new developments, management and marketing.