Not Born With It? You Can Still Become A Great Leader
No one ever said being a leader was easy. It's not. Not only do you have to make smart decisions about products and services, marketing, financing, and other operational issues, but you also have to maximize the full potential of your employees. The good news is that you don't have to be a born leader to be an effective leader. Just embrace these six pillars of leadership wisdom.
1. Make Time to Interact with Your People
While it's true that management involves a certain amount of direction and problem-solving, top managers realize a significant part their role also involves coaching their employees and facilitating better performance. It seems simple enough, but it's not always easy to pull off. It requires a sincere commitment to on-going interaction with your people, and this takes time. Interact with your people--become familiar with your employees' talents and limitations and give them the tools and encouragement they need to succeed. Listen to them. Encourage them, provide them with guidance, respect their efforts and ask questions to get a feeling for what motivates them.
2. Trust Your Common Sense
There is no end to the lists, tools, and resources you can find to help you improve as an entrepreneur. But you already have within you the most important tool you need to be a remarkably effective leader: your own common sense. Listen to your inner voice when your sensibilities are challenged, and let your sense of fairness be your guide whenever possible.
3. Acknowledge Performance, But Reward with Discretion
Everyone likes rewards. People feel that their efforts are appreciated when they are rewarded. You should clearly communicate want you want employees to achieve, and always acknowledge their efforts. But consider rewarding them only when they consistently exceed your expectations.
4. Do A Gut Check
Most of us spend roughly one-third of our lives at work. Ask yourself, and answer truthfully: Do I enjoy going to work? Do you think your employees look forward to coming to work? When you can go to bed and look forward to getting up early and going to work, you know you've made your workplace a fun place to be. A positive atmosphere is full of constructive energy, and it is contagious. Search for ways to make work both fun and productive.
5. Be The Change You Wish To See
Do you want more engaged employees and happier customers? If so, then it's your job to set a good example. If you set a positive example by showing employees the behavior you expect from them, rather than always telling them what to do, your people will follow your lead. When you start to see the change you want in your organization, you'll know you're leading by example.
6. Speaking of Change, Embrace It
Nothing is forever. Change is a given in every business and in every market. Today's most effective leaders look forward to change because they understand that change brings with it far more opportunities than problems. Be flexible, be adaptable, and ensure that your people and your business are agile and ready to turn on a dime when change requires it.
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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.