Master the 4 Secrets of Awesome Leadership
The role of an entrepreneur in the organization he or she built is becoming increasingly complex and dynamic. While entrepreneurs have always had to act as managers to move their organizations forward--taking on the traditional management roles of planning, organizing, leading and controlling--they are also expected to be effective leaders.
Great leaders take these traditional management roles to a much higher level. Sure, they still plan, organize, lead and control, but they must simultaneously master these four secrets of awesome leadership:
Today's most effective leaders don't just provide feedback and status updates--they energize employees when they communicate. Leaders are mindful of the intent and potential effect of their words. When interacting with people, especially in times of great change, challenge or organizational stress, your attitude is highly visible to your employees. Be a leader. Communicate thoughtfully to your organization and speak from your heart. Inspire and energize--paint a positive and compelling vision of the future, then clearly describe your employees' role within it.
Dare to empower your employees. To empower, in a sense, means to give away power to someone else. Giving away power might seem odd to a company founder or entrepreneur. After all, a significant portion of your role involves having some power and sway in the organization, right? Not necessarily. Power, when misunderstood, suggests the illusion of control. Instead of seeking control over other people, highly successful leaders strive to empower others. They are people who control themselves and work to influence others. Empowerment provides employees with a chance to grow and succeed based on their own hard work and motivation. Great organizations influence employees by encouraging growth and learning, supporting them with the proper training and tools, and creating a constructive, positive work environment.
To successfully support your employees, you must clearly communicate objectives and feedback on progress, and provide employees with the tools and training necessary for their jobs. When productivity is challenged or stopped, encourage constructive two-way communication and identify a proper course of action. When problems and mistakes occur, look for solutions. Shield employees from the fallout of organizational politics and avoid blaming individuals for failure. Support from the top cultivates a cohesive bond and camaraderie among employees. Employees interact and perform confidently in a supportive environment; they feel comfortable calling attention to problems and offering solutions knowing they will be heard and their input seriously considered.
Constructive communication is a hallmark of highly successful organizations and the leaders who run them. Thoughtful, constructive communication is a dynamic, interactive and transparent way of distributing information throughout an organization. It requires skills such as listening actively, clarifying messages, confirming intent and appreciating the power of words. Outstanding leaders consider their audience and their intention, and carefully choose a tone and a medium in which to deliver their messages. With all the technology available in today's workplaces--from telephones, email and instant messaging to Twitter, Skype, YouTube and much more--the possibilities for getting out information quickly and widely are limitless.
You don't need to be born a great leader to become a great leader. Master these four secrets of awesome leadership, and you will be well on the way to improving your leadership game.
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While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest Inc.com columns, and visit him anytime at petereconomy.com.