Lately it seems like everyone is a leadership expert. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines “expert” thusly (I felt the need to use “thusly” because it’s Oxford after all):
“A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.”
To gain knowledge or skill takes time. You need experience and education to obtain expertise. The catch is to learn from your successes and failures along the way. Repeating the former and not the latter.
Everyone likes to offer advice. Especially on food, kids and leadership. Maybe that’s because, in the span of our lives, we spend so much time eating, parenting and leading (or being led by someone else). Truth is, everyone is a leader. Just to varying degrees.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” —John Quincy Adams
Here are 10 keys to making a difference in the lives of those you lead. Whether you’re a pupil, parent, pastor or power-player I hope these keys equip you with new tools.
I’ve learned these from 7 years of marriage (and counting), 3 kids (and no more) and 150 volunteers. And I’m still not an expert.
If you only read this far you’re already ahead of the game. A leader who loves his people will rarely have an employee performance issue. If your people know how much you care about them, they will care about you. Soldiers don’t show up for battle to risk death for a general who hates their guts. But they will fight to the last man for a captain whose heart beats for them with honor and pride.
Get involved with your people. Don’t be one of those aloof (or scared) corner office executives who hides behind their desk with the door shut. Get down in the trenches with your team and do some work shoulder to shoulder. Spending quality time with your employees inside (and sometimes outside) of work is an investment with a high rate of return.
Recognize the effort of your team. You might sign the paychecks, but you wouldn’t have money to spend without your team. Compensation is a simple transaction for services rendered based on a contract. However, if you acknowledge the contribution your people make it will work wonders for productivity and output. The intrinsic value of genuine appreciation far surpasses a paycheck.
Okay, control freak. You can’t do everything. That’s what a team is for. Put them to work doing what you hired them to do. Trust people to do the job on their email signature. If you can’t that’s your fault for either A) not making a good hire or B) not dealing with your trust issues. Allow your team to do what they do best so that you’re free to do what you do best.
A little word of encouragement goes a long way. We all have bad days and make mistakes. The right words at the right time can reverse a discouraged attitude into an empowered mindset. Take advantage of every opportunity to pour positivity into your people. Build up your team and they will build your business.
Aretha Franklin was onto something. All your people are asking for is a little respect. You’re the boss, they’re the employees. Fine. You didn’t have to hire them, but you know what? They didn’t have to come work for you either. The people on your team are people. Respect their intelligence, independence and individuality.
Roller coasters are a great illustration for real life. There are ups, down and loops. Your organization and the people in it will go through the similar phases. Support your people and have their back when the going gets tough.
Laughter is the best medicine. I don’t know if that’s true, but a sense of humor is crucial to enduring the rough patches and fostering a culture of fun, motivated people. Think about the environment you are promoting at work. People who are happy are more productive. These statistics don’t lie. You got the walking dead lumbering into work each day? Lighten up and watch your people liven up.
Every relationship is built on trust. You trust your team to show up on Monday. They expect a paycheck every other Friday. Leaders who contradict what they communicate can kiss success goodbye. Say what you mean. Do what you say you will. Set a goal and stick to it. Establish expectations and communicate them clearly. Integrity provides clarity amidst the chaos.
Beyond believing in your people you’ve gotta believe in your cause. Be the champion of your product, service or charity. If you don’t believe it your team won’t either.
What principles do you view as crucial for leaders of all kinds?