Just because someone sits in a leadership position doesn't mean he or she will be any good at inspiring others to do good work. It all depends on what a leader is willing to give. That's according to Major General Mike Diamond, U.S. Army (retired) and coauthor of "The Diamond Process: How to Fix Your Organization and Effectively Lead People." Here are his words on the seven things he says the most successful leaders give away every day.
You must first care for yourself, but not in a selfish way. Ensure that your basic needs are taken care of. Care for others, not just talking, but acting. People don't care what you know until they can see and know that you care. Words are cheap, but examples of caring for the welfare, concerns, needs, wants of those who work for you, make a difference. Search out and find what are the items that your subordinates really need first and then want. Keep a list... and work toward satisfying those needs and wants. Early in his second assignment, my son asked his chief subordinate what he really needed and was told it was a machine that they had been trying to acquire for some time. He went on a scavenger hunt for a week or more, found one and called his chief, who was elated. Thence, the cornerstone for a long-lasting relationship was birthed.
Trust can best work when you insure that proper and adequate training has taken place... The more insecure you are, the harder it is to trust others. Micro-managers are a good example of those who have trust issues. If you tend to micro-manage, then follow these basic steps: select the right person for the job; train them to the standards required for the job; resource them with all the tools needed to perform the job; identify the expectations for the performance; get out of their way to allow them to do the job; assess the performance and correct and praise, as appropriate.
Build relationships with all subordinates. Yes, some will be stronger than others. But at least start and build a relationship with each and every one. Why? Workers want to be treated as individuals. The first step in doing that is to build that relationship. Find common ground. Get to know the worker as an individual outside of work. What do they do with their non-work time? What is important to them? What are their hobbies? Many people are motivated in their work by what they do outside of work. When you greet them each day, ask them how things are going with what is important to them... I've worked for several senior leaders of all types. While in a headquarters organization with 3,500 members, I worked for two individuals who may have known 12 people in the entire organization--only their direct reports. On the flip side, I worked for one person who knew 400 of the 3,500 by first name. Which do you think was a more effective leader?
Once you have cared, trusted and built relationships, people look for some signs that you can be loyal to them. Are you just using your job as a stepping stone to higher platitudes? Are you really into them as individuals, as teammates, as professionals? Look for situations in which you can be loyal to them. Look for opportunities where you can defend, support, develop, promote, improve life at work or even outside of work for them.
The worst thing you can do as a leader is not have standards. Anything goes. Sports teams with low standards don't win very often. Professionals are built on meeting standards for their profession. How does a leader establish standards? Find the areas that are in most need of having standards and work to establish basic ones. Overall, once people are consistently performing beyond certain standards, it may be time to bump them up a bit. And when you are performing at consistently high levels, you will be looking at benchmarks to strive to be best in breed.
6. What Right Looks Like
When you hear your boss remark that you as the leader are assigned to the organization because "you know what right looks like," you are being told several things. You know the ingredients necessary to do the job, the processes required to perform and the results needed to succeed with the organization. Complete leaders know how to find the ingredients; develop, improve, and finetune processes; and how to bring results to the bottom line. Sometimes it takes seeing things wrong to get a better feel for "right." It is a product of experience, learning and improving your skillsets.
A leader brings chemistry to an organization. Sometimes it is a spark to bring about the right changes needed to move an organization from good to great, as Jim Collins puts it. Sometimes it is emotionally based and other times it is non-emotional. Chemistry is bringing out the best of all the parts into a synergistic whole of an organization. It's rhythm and harmony-together. This is the Ph.D. level of leading that many don't get to because they haven't figured out the previous six.
How do you gauge your success? Your people will tell you things like:
- "Hey boss, when you move to another job, I would like to be on your team."
- "When you get a promotion, please take me with you."
- "I want to be on your team wherever you are."
When you hear these things, you'll know you have truly succeeded in becoming a complete leader.