Tips for Sharpening Your Leadership Skills

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Louie Sharp

No one should wonder how to become a better leader. According to Louie Sharp, owner of Sharp Auto Body in Island Lake, Ill., says everyone is already a gifted leader with different skills, talents, and gifts because everyone is leading somebody, somewhere.

Better leadership relies on the ability to develop values and live by them. He says developing a list of core values is a process that will help inform you through making decisions to lead a team.

“The power of values is that you get to pick them, and then by picking them, you get to start becoming them,” Sharp says.

He relies on six core values; excellence, service to others, fun, integrity, creativity, and solutions. “When I make decisions or I think about who I want to be, and I review them, my values, on a regular basis, I go back to them when I need to make decisions, and that becomes my compass,” Sharp says.
Sharp developed his list throughout his life by reading, learning, and through 20 years of experience in the U.S. Marines.

“The times when I have led my very best through the hardships have been when I have been on track and stayed true to my values,” he says.
Sharp encourages reviewing your list of positive values and finding what best supports your leadership style. There is no one-size-fits-all list.

3 Tips to Better Leadership

From his own experiences and playing off his list of values, he offers the following tips to sharpen your own leadership skills.

Take 100% responsibility for everything, accountability.

Sharp says that to become a better leader, taking responsibility for your actions is crucial. Leaders have the power to change anything in their life. “When you take 100 percent responsibility, you’ve got to realize there’s only three things you have control over. The things we think, the things we say, and the things we do.”

“You’re the one that took in a specific job [at your shop], or you’re the one living with the pain or aggravation from a vendor,” he says. Better leaders are accountable for their actions, Sharp adds. Everyone has the power to change what is not benefiting them in their professional and personal lives.

Lead by example, integrity.

To help visualize leading by example, Sharp imagines himself in the middle of a crowded football stadium with the audience watching his every move.

That scenario helps him analyze his actions, “how do you talk to people, how do you dress, how do you carry yourself, how do you behave?”
He believes that someone is always watching or looking toward you for guidance.

“Leading by example is like integrity, doing the right thing when nobody’s watching. Because, ultimately, somebody is always watching,” Sharp says.

Be a consistent learner and open to change, growth.

Sharp says reading about interests, teambuilding, aspects of your career or your industry will allow leaders to grow. That growth opens the door to allow positive change.

He encourages everyone to be open to the constant changes happening in the world around them. No one could have prevented the current coronavirus pandemic. However, the ability to lead, adapt, and stay focused during these times has allowed Sharp to continue to lead his company.
“If you’re being led by somebody who is calm and composed, you stay calm and composed,” he says.

Sharp says everybody’s personal and professional lives go hand in hand. The ability to understand your guiding values will allow you to lead through the toughest, and easiest, times.

“Great leaders aren’t born, they’re developed. As a leader, we are all responsible for developing leaders,” Sharp says.

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