Great Leadership Grows From A Mixed Bag
What constitutes a great leader?
That question is asked of me as often as "what makes a great sales person?" Both answers would be more than a mouthful, but I will provide you with a list of areas I believe are most important to remember.
- Culture - Leaders are the spearhead for the corporation's culture. Fanaticism has its place here. Anything less than a culture that calls for greatness in everything you do will not work.
- Planning - The sales and marketing plan and the business plan should be reviewed monthly to ensure that we stay on track and beat self-imposed deadlines. Focus intently on sales, particular clients and development of your human resources.
- Time utilization - Major time should be invested in major things. There are two majors - your group and your clients. How many days a month do you spend with clients, listening to them? And with your group? Now, how many days should you be?
- Think - Instead of just doing, leaders must take the necessary quiet time to think about new ways of doing things. A Phoenix-based aircraft parts company has quiet rooms where the employees can go to read self-improvement books and magazines. Everyone needs to be challenged to more fully utilize their brain - to think creatively.
- Feedback - How do your peers think of you? How do your subordinates feel about you? Ask and see if there are any surprises to your self-perception. Get a management personality profile run on you so that you better understand yourself and the image you project.
- Failing - I believe we learn more from failures than successes. Yet, most leaders have not encouraged their people to fail more. Failing usually comes form doing new things. Did everyone on your staff do one new thing last week? Should they have?
- Proactive - Leaders will hardly ever have all of the information they need for a decision. When you wait for all the details, your final decision may be too late. Don't worry about being 100 percent correct in 100 percent of the cases.
- Creativity - I have creative ideas that have helped a lot of clients become more successful. I have also provided them with a bunch of ideas that were, well, less than spectacular. Encourage everyone to put every creative idea they have on the table. Defend an individual, if you must, if more than 50 percent of his ideas are duds. With the duds comes the gems.
- Appreciation - You have a lot of quiet, behind-the-scenes people who do not get a lot of attention - and probably do not want any. What they do want and need is a little appreciation. Just a cup of coffee with one new person a week will pay dividends. Listen to them, because they know more about their sector than you do.
- Fun - Is it the most fun place in the town to work? When people love what they do, you get better performance.
- Giving - Leaders gain respect and power by sharing their time and talents and not taking credit from others. Give to get.
- Listening - Leaders ask tons of questions and listen intently to every word. Introverts do not usually say much. When they do, hang on to every word.
- Cutting-edge - What unheard-of service do you offer that no one else does? Keep the edge on your group to provide suggestions for low-cost value-added services that will create a niche in the marketplace. Think about a service that creates a partnership with clients.
- Succession - If you ran into a telephone pole tomorrow, who would take your place? Never let yourself be indispensable and never let anyone be so either. Put in everyone's job description that they must recruit, select and train their replacement.
- Intuition - Experienced leaders, through many victories and defeats, have learned to stay tuned to their intuition. When doubt crawls in and your "gut feeling" tells you something is wrong, it probably is.
- Courage - Many leaders do not tell their chief the truth. Silence is not golden - it is cowardice.
- Mission - Everyone needs a reminder as to our mission statement. Eat, sleep and breathe it. Make it real. Get everyone involved. It is a vital responsibility that is often seen as trivial. It is not.
- Resources - Leaders understand that most people have not been stretched enough. Provide targeted training and education and you earn the right to raise expectations from everyone.
- Re-energize - Leaders always keep the edge on everyone. They often utilize the word "absolute," so that everyone understands that anything less than an all-out effort is intolerable. Let them see the fire in your belly from time to time. Then furnish unexpected rewards to those who came early, stayed late, came in on Saturdays and to those that spoke out. Give them a day off, a dinner for two or whatever.
Then treat yourself to a similar reward, because real leaders deserve it.