When good leadership is in place in a company, it can be felt throughout the entire organization. With good leadership, corporate culture isn’t forced, it is developed. Communication is daily and open. Everyone understands the vision and goals of the organization, and everyone has input into how they can be improved. Employees feel that they are an important part of the whole and that every job matters within the company. Decisions for promotions are based on picking people of integrity whose talents and experience best fit the positions. Employees are encouraged to compete with their own best to get ahead and they understand that helping their coworkers to succeed is the best way to get ahead themselves. The result of good leadership is high morale, good employee retention, and sustainable long-term success. Bad leadership can also be felt throughout the entire organization – only not in a good way. Corporate culture becomes a meaningless term where leaders claim it exists while employees shake their heads in frustration. There is a lack of clear, consistent communication from leadership to the employees. As a result, the office is run by rumor mill, politics and gamesmanship. Employees are uncertain of the company’s goals and objectives for success and they have no idea how they fit into that picture, or what their level of importance is toward making it happen. Decisions for promotions are not based on integrity or talent, but rather they are based on who can talk the biggest talk or who is deemed to be the least threatening to the current leadership team. Employees are taught play dirty against coworkers to get ahead by watching as it is continuously rewarded by leadership leading to the Lobster Syndrome of tearing one another down throughout the organization. The result of bad leadership is low morale, high turnover, and a decreased ability to have any sustainable success. To become a truly great company it takes truly great leaders. And there is a huge difference in bosses and leaders. Here are some great quotes that I love on being a great leader: “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership.” –Dwight Eisenhower “Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead.” —Ross Perot “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” —General Colin Powell “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” —Brian Tracy “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” —Douglas MacArthur Companies cannot afford to have poor leadership if they want to truly succeed – and I don’t just mean in terms of financial success. I define success as far more than just money. I define success for a company as having a good product or service that adds value to the lives of its customers, while providing a positive working environment that allows employees to grow and flourish in their talents and abilities as well as their personal value system, all while generating a profitable return for shareholders. If a company isn’t doing all three of those then it isn’t truly successful. Employees cannot flourish under poor leadership, and when they are faced with having to follow poor leaders, companies risk losing their very best and most talented people. Don’t risk allowing poor leaders to lead your organization. For anyone who is ever granted the opportunity to take a leadership position, remember that being a true leader doesn’t come from a title, it is a designation you must earn from the people you lead. http://www.amyreesanderson.com/blog
When was the last time, if ever, you asked yourself the question:
“Why do I lead?”
Notice I did not ask how you lead or what you lead, I asked WHY you lead. What is the ultimate outcome or purpose that drives you to carry on despite the many challenges that accompany leadership?
If you don’t know the answer to that question, maybe it’s time you put some thought into it. The answer matters because it will manifest itself in the choices you make about priorities and the ways you interact with the human beings you encounter every day. The answer matters because without a strong, internal compass to guide us, we easily, and often subtly, drift off course. And when leaders drift off course, the consequences can be…well “Titanic”.
Another reason to know your “why” is so that you can lose your title without losing yourself. Think for a moment about how you would feel, if tomorrow, you were removed from your position of authority. Would you cease to be a leader until someone gives you a new title? Leadership is not defined by what you are responsible for, it is defined by who you are. If your leadership identity is in the role then you will be lost when the role comes to an end. As all things do.
Your “why” will give you courage to carry on. Name a great leader. I bet they faced adversity. And I bet you know their “why”.
Consider this…your “why” may be the only reason people will actually allow you to influence them. People have a keen sense for what the underlying motives are in leaders. Over time they do a pretty good job of figuring out what you are really about. If your “why” is grounded in love, service and mutual success then there is a pretty good chance you will be heard. Getting that next promotion? Not so much.
So why do you lead?
I lead to improve lives. That’s my “why”. It works for me because it always applies no matter the context or circumstance. I’ve greatly simplified it over the years but that has always been the core theme. I don’t always live up to it but I always come back to it. I make sure to let people know what I’m about. Your why may read much differently or contain a lot more words and ideas. There is no right answer. There is only your answer. The important thing…
Is that you have an answer.
As an exercise I recommend you get a notebook and write as many endings to this stem as you can think of, as fast as you can, without stopping or judging. Read back through the list to find a core theme that resonates with your heart and your mission.
I lead because…
Now you have a “why” that is bigger than any job, title or opinion. A “why” that is bigger…than you. Care to share?
Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s needs. – Frederick Buechner
Courageous leaders are in high demand and short supply these days.
Rampant fear has sent many organizational cultures into a downward spiral, the tenuous state of the economy creating untold levels of anxiety. According to a 2011/2012 Kenexa report , workplace stress is at the highest levels in four years, driven in large part by fear. In these situations, people tend to keep their heads down and their mouths shut in order to survive. This not only applies to the rank and file, but to management as well.
These are the times that call for bold, confident, courageous leadership. As history has shown, those with the guts to step forward, take some risks and lead change during downturns will be the winners as the economy rebounds.
But it’s not easy. Demonstrating leadership courage – whether it’s having an uncomfortable conversation, communicating when you don’t have all the answers, or making a decision to move ahead on a new project – can be scary. Yet it’s precisely the kind of behavior that fosters trust and sets a crucial example for others to follow at a time when they’d rather hunker down and wait for the storm to pass.
If you want to see more courageous action by your people, consider whether you’re modeling the 10 traits of courageous leaders:
Confront reality head-on. Ditch the rose-colored glasses and face the facts about the state of your organization and business. Only by knowing the true current state can you lead your team to a better place.
Seek feedback and listen. We all have blind spots that impact the way we interact with others. Unfiltered 360-degree feedback is not always easy to hear, but it can breathe new life into your relationships and leadership style if you listen and act.
Say what needs to be said. Real conversations can be awkward and uncomfortable, especially if conflict is involved. Having crucial conversations helps cut through the smoke and move through issues. This also means having the courage to put your opinions on the table, even if they are unpopular.
Encourage push-back. Many leaders feel pressure to have all the answers. By encouraging constructive dissent and healthy debate, you reinforce the strength of the team and demonstrate that in the tension of diverse opinions lies a better answer.
Take action on performance issues. Confronting people issues isi hard, which is why so many leaders ignore them until they become a toxic threat to the team or company’s performance. By taking swift action to reassign or exit underperforming employees, you are helping yourself, the team and organization.
Communicate openly and frequently. Keep the lines of communication open, even when you don’t know all the answers. Courageous leaders refuse to hide behind jargon and wiggle-words – they use straight-talk and are not afraid to say “I don’t know.” They also share information instead of hoarding it.
Lead change. In fear-based environments, it’s all about protecting the status quo. Envision a better way, a better solution, a better product – and approach it with determination and an open mind, knowing that it will be messy and that a mid-course correction may be necessary. Remember that you need to bring people along the change process for them to truly engage.
Make decisions and move forward. Especially in environments of fear and intense change, it feels unsafe to commit to a decision and move ahead. Avoid the crutch of ‘analysis paralysis’ and make the decision. Forward movement is always better than being stuck in place.
Give credit to others. Let go of the need for praise and instead give the credit to those around you. At first it feels scary – will I be rendered irrelevant or unnecessary if my people are doing all the good stuff? Remember that a good leader takes more than their fair share of the blame and less than their fair share of the credit.
Hold people (and yourself) accountable. Expect people to perform and deliver on their commitments, and have courage to call them out when they don’t follow through. Remember that accountability begins with you – holding yourself responsible for modeling the behaviors you expect of others.
One of the most often overlooked aspects of leadership is the need for pursuit. Great leaders are never satisfied with traditional practice, static thinking, conventional wisdom, or common performance. In fact, the best leaders are simply uncomfortable with anything that embraces the status quo. Leadership is pursuit – pursuit of excellence, of elegance, of truth, of what’s next, of what if, of change, of value, of results, of relationships, of service, of knowledge, and of something bigger than yourself. In the text that follows I’ll examine the value of being a pursuer…
Here’s the thing – pursuit leads to attainment. What you pursue will determine the paths you travel, the people you associate with, the character you develop, and ultimately, what you do or don’t achieve. Having a mindset focused on pursuit is so critical to leadership that lacking this one quality can sentence you to mediocrity or even obsolescence. The manner, method, and motivation behind any pursuit is what sets truly great leaders apart from the masses. If you want to become a great leader, become a great pursuer.
A failure to embrace pursuit is to cede opportunity to others. A leader’s failure to pursue clarity leaves them amidst the fog. Their failure to pursue creativity relegates them to the routine and mundane. Their failure to pursue talent sentences them to a world of isolation. Their failure to pursue change approves apathy. Their failure to pursue wisdom and discernment subjects them to distraction and folly. Their failure to pursue character leaves a question mark on their integrity. Let me put this as simply as I can – you cannot attain what you do not pursue.
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Deborah L. Jacobs
Smart leaders understand it’s not just enough to pursue, but pursuit must be intentional, focused, consistent, aggressive, and unyielding. You must pursue the right things, for the right reasons, and at the right times. Perhaps most of all, the best forms of pursuit enlist others in the chase. Pursuit in its purest form is highly collaborative, very inclusive and easily transferable. Pursuit operates at greatest strength when it leverages velocity and scale.
I also want to caution you against trivial pursuits – don’t confuse pursuit with simple goal setting. Outcomes are clearly important, but as a leader, it’s what happens after the outcome that you need to be in pursuit of. Pursue discovery, seek dissenting opinions, develop your ability unlearn by embracing how much you don’t know, and find the kind of vision that truly does see around corners. Don’t use your pursuits to shift paradigms, pursue breaking them. Knowing what not to pursue is just as important as knowing what to pursue.
It’s important to keep in mind that nothing tells the world more about a leader than what or who they pursue – that which you pursue is that which you value. If you message to your organization you value talent, but don’t treat people well and don’t spend time developing the talent around you, then I would suggest you value rhetoric more than talent. Put simply, you can wax eloquent all you like, but your actions will ultimately reveal what you truly value.
Lastly, the best leaders pursue being better leaders. They know to fail in this pursuit is nothing short of a guarantee they’ll be replaced by those who don’t. All leaders would be well served to go back to school on what I refer to as the art and science of pursuitology.
What’s been the best thing you’ve pursued? What pursuit has led you astray. Thoughts?
Foerbes, Mike Myatt
Everybody thinks they’re a leader – most are far from it. The harsh reality is that we live in a world awash with wannabe leaders. As much as some don’t want to admit it, not everyone can or should become a leader (my take on the born vs. made argument). Simply desiring to be a leader doesn’t mean a person has the character, skill, and courage necessary to be a leader.
If you think you’re a leader, but haven’t been recognized as such, you have a problem. Either you’re incorrect in your self-assessment, or those you report to don’t recognize your talent. Here’s the good news; handled correctly, either scenario can be resolved if you’re willing to do some work.
I’m often asked what it takes to get to the top – it’s as if people want an add water and mix recipe for leadership. While there are many paths to leadership, they’re certainly not all created equal. Perhaps a more telling issue in today’s world is many of those desiring to get ahead, have no desire to help others get ahead.
I never cease to be amazed at the numbers of people in leadership positions that shouldn’t be. Likewise, I’ve stopped being surprised when those charged with leadership development can’t seem to figure out what constitutes a leader. It’s my hope the following list will eliminate the confusion about why someone isn’t a leader. You’re not a leader if…
1. You don’t get results: Real leaders perform – they get the job done – they consistently exceed expectations. No results = no leadership – it’s just that simple.
2. You get results the wrong way: If the only way you can solve the deficit described in point #1 above is through chicanery or skullduggery you’re not a leader. The ends don’t justify the means. If you abuse your influence, don’t treat people well, or confuse manipulation with leadership, you may win a few battles, but you’ll lose the war. Optics over ethics never ends well, and being a jerk doesn’t make you a leader.
3. You don’t care: Indifference is a characteristic not well suited to leadership. You simply cannot be a leader if you don’t care about those you lead. The real test of any leader is whether or not those they lead are better off for being led by them.
4. You’re chasing a position and not a higher purpose: If you value self-interest above service beyond self you simply don’t understand the concept of leadership. Leadership is about caring about something beyond yourself, and leading others to a better place – even if it means you take a back seat, or end up with no seat at all. Power often comes with leadership, but it’s not what drives real leaders.
5. You care more about making promises than keeping them: Leadership isn’t about your rhetoric; it’s about your actions. Leadership might begin with vision casting, but it’s delivering the vision that will ultimately determine your success as a leader.
6. You put people in boxes: Stop telling people why they can’t do something and show them how they can. Leaders don’t put people in boxes, it’s their obligation to free them from boxes. True leadership is about helping people reach places they didn’t know they could go.
7. You follow the rules instead of breaking them: Status quo is the great enemy of leadership. Leadership is nothing if not understanding the need for change, and then possessing the ability to deliver it.
8. You churn talent instead of retain it: Real leadership serves as a talent magnet – not a talent repellent. If you can’t acquire talent, can’t develop talent, or can’t retain talent you are not a leader.
9. You take credit instead of giving it: True leadership isn’t found seeking the spotlight, but seeking to shine the spotlight on others. The best leaders only use “I” when accepting responsibility for failures. Likewise, they are quick to use “we” when referring to successes.
10. You care about process more than people: But for the people there is no platform. Without the people you have nothing to lead. When you place things above the people you lead you have failed as a leader.
Forbes, Mike Myatt
Whether you’re just starting to hire or expanding your existing team, attracting and encouraging top talent can be difficult. You want to find the best of the best – and find ways to help them thrive in your company.
In general, I’ve found that the following advice helps ensure that your employees are happy and successful – and that you are, too.
1. Don’t Settle for Mediocre: It’s not fun to fire people, so employers often settle for the first so-so person they hire. However, this practice can lead to weaknesses within a team. Once you realize a member of the team is performing at a mediocre level, call him out, but more importantly, support him to do better. If there’s no improvement, it’s time to find a new rock star for your team.
2. Be a Thought Leader: Top talent is too good to work for middling companies with weak brands. The more you can position yourself as an authority in your industry, the more talent will naturally be attracted to your business. I try to contribute to at least two publications each month to share my expertise with others, and those articles show up when potential hires research my company.
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3. Trust is Crucial: A team member can be highly intelligent and a hard worker, but if you can’t trust that person, it’s time to let him go. If you keep that person on, you’ll have a bigger problem to deal with when disaster strikes. Your daily operations could take a big hit if you retain employees you can’t trust.
4. Forget the Money… at First: Hire a person whose main motivation is to build a team, or someone who has a passion for your business in general. Money is extremely important, but when it’s the main thing on someone’s mind, it can be a distraction. It’s important for your employees to care about the success of your business, and if all they see are dollar signs, their hearts may not be in it.
5. Personal Lives are Important: Recognize that your team members have personal lives. It’s easy to take small steps to celebrate birthdays, weddings, or other significant moments in their lives. If you see an opportunity to help a team member outside of work, it pays to take it. It helps build loyalty with your employees, and they tend to pay it forward with other team members.
6. Maintain Systematic Processes: Once you’ve achieved success in a certain area, create a process that mimics that success over and over. A great read on this topic is “The Checklist Manifesto.” In it, a hospital created checklists to create a systematic process for maintaining good health in the building, and they decreased infections by 66%. Checklists increase the effectiveness – and success – of a team.
7. Diversity Brings Innovation: There’s a reason diversity is a common topic among employers. To build a great team, you need diverse thinkers. A variety of races, ages, and sexes can help a team think outside the box and hit problems from many different angles. Plus, it makes your office a more interesting place to work.
8. It’s Okay to Be Friends: In most offices, you’ll spend more time with your coworkers than you do with your family. Being friends and getting along not only increases performance, it also leads to a great work environment. As long as you keep a goal-oriented focus and hold people accountable, you shouldn’t be scared of a team that’s made up of your friends.
9. Play to People’s Strengths: Find out what your employees are great at, but don’t forget about their weaknesses. Each team member should be spending time doing what he or she does best, but you should recognize weaknesses and help your employees improve. Don’t miss out on creating an all-around rock star employee just because he really “kills it” at one thing.
10. Great Teams Read Together: Leaders are readers, so if you’re going to create leaders within the team, they should consistently read. We’re always sharing articles and books among our team. It keeps us on top of recent trends and helps stimulate strategic thoughts.
11. Invest in Your First Five Hires: The more time you invest in training your first five hires, the less time you have to spend training the ones who join the company later. Make it a point to set aside time with each member to support him or her so everyone is prepared to show that same support to new employees as your company grows.
12. Give Recognition: Recognize people when they do something extraordinary. It not only gives people a sense of accomplishment, it inspires others to make efforts to go above and beyond their normal duties as well. We give a Championship Belt to a team member each week to recognize that person for doing something incredible. Even small efforts can make your employees feel appreciated and inspire them to do even more.
It takes time and effort to put together a dream team, but using the above strategies, I’ve managed to build an amazing group of employees I wouldn’t trade for anybody out there.
Forbes, John Hall
Being likeable will help you in your job, business, relationships, and life. I interviewed dozens of successful business leaders for my last book, to determine what made them so likeable and their companies so successful. All of the concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful. Below are the eleven most important principles to integrate to become a better leader:
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway
Listening is the foundation of any good relationship. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors. Here’s why the best CEO’s listen more.
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” -Robert McAfee Brown
After listening, leaders need to tell great stories in order to sell their products, but more important, in order to sell their ideas. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives them to take action. Whether you’re telling a story to one prospect over lunch, a boardroom full of people, or thousands of people through an online video – storytelling wins customers.
“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey
Great leaders are who they say they are, and they have integrity beyond compare. Vulnerability and humility are hallmarks of the authentic leader and create a positive, attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Tomorrow’s leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.
“As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” -John Whittier
There is nowhere to hide anymore, and businesspeople who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier staff and customers and colleagues. More important, transparency makes it a lot easier to sleep at night – unworried about what you said to whom, a happier leader is a more productive one.
5. Team Playing
“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” -SEAL Team Saying
No matter how small your organization, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, practicing humility, and following other rules for working in teams will help you become a more likeable leader. You’ll need a culture of success within your organization, one that includes out-of-the-box thinking.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles Swindoll
The best leaders are responsive to their customers, staff, investors, and prospects. Every stakeholder today is a potential viral sparkplug, for better or for worse, and the winning leader is one who recognizes this and insists upon a culture of responsiveness. Whether the communication is email, voice mail, a note or a a tweet, responding shows you care and gives your customers and colleagues a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on the organization.
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” -Ben Franklin
There has never been a faster-changing marketplace than the one we live in today. Leaders must be flexible in managing changing opportunities and challenges and nimble enough to pivot at the right moment. Stubbornness is no longer desirable to most organizations. Instead, humility and the willingness to adapt mark a great leader.
“The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” -Steve Jobs
Those who love what they do don’t have to work a day in their lives. People who are able to bring passion to their business have a remarkable advantage, as that passion is contagious to customers and colleagues alike. Finding and increasing your passion will absolutely affect your bottom line.
9. Surprise and Delight
“A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.” -Charles de Gaulle
Most people like surprises in their day-to-day lives. Likeable leaders underpromise and overdeliver, assuring that customers and staff are surprised in a positive way. There are a plethora of ways to surprise without spending extra money – a smile, We all like to be delighted — surprise and delight create incredible word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.
“Less isn’t more; just enough is more.” -Milton Glaser
The world is more complex than ever before, and yet what customers often respond to best is simplicity — in design, form, and function. Taking complex projects, challenges, and ideas and distilling them to their simplest components allows customers, staff, and other stakeholders to better understand and buy into your vision. We humans all crave simplicity, and so today’s leader must be focused and deliver simplicity.
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -Gilbert Chesterton
Likeable leaders are ever grateful for the people who contribute to their opportunities and success. Being appreciative and saying thank you to mentors, customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders keeps leaders humble, appreciated, and well received. It also makes you feel great! Donor’s Choose studied the value of a hand-written thank-you note, and actually found donors were 38% more likely to give a 2nd time if they got a hand-written note!
The Golden Rule: Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated
By showing others the same courtesy you expect from them, you will gain more respect from coworkers, customers, and business partners. Holding others in high regard demonstrates your company’s likeability and motivates others to work with you. This seems so simple, as do so many of these principles — and yet many people, too concerned with making money or getting by, fail to truly adopt these key concepts.
Which of these principles are most important to you — what makes you likeable?
Linkedin , Dave Kerpen