Being the leader is tough--there is capital to secure, products to develop, websites to design, and marketing campaigns to roll out. It's no wonder that effective leadership often gets neglected to the detriment of employees who are trying to help the organization get things done.
Forgetting to prioritize the people-side of your business means that performance can suffer as well as your bottom line. Here are seven simple, but remarkably powerful, rules that can have a tremendous impact on you, your employees and customers, and ultimately, your organization.
1. Watch what you reward.
Employees are eager to do the things that you reward them for doing. For example, if you let an employee habitually arrive late to work without holding them accountable, then you are reinforcing and encouraging more of this type of behavior, while loudly broadcasting to other employees that it's OK to be late. Carefully consider exactly what it is that you want your employees to do, and then reward them only when they do it.
2. The best business is common sense.
Despite the constant flood of books touting the latest management fads, most leaders already have within them the tools they need to manage well. The most important tool is common sense. Use your common sense at every possible opportunity and you will be miles ahead of the rest of the pack.
3. If you don't like the way things are today, be patient.
Everything will change tomorrow. Business has always been anything but static. As a result, flexibility and adaptability are two of the most important characteristics for business people to possess. Business is in a state of constant change. Take advantage of that change by being prepared for it--and by preparing your employees to be readily able to adjust when the time comes.
4. Leadership is a people job.
Put people first. In the daily rush of activities, it's easy to forget that it's your employees who make your business what it is. They answer your phones, greet customers, build your products, and provide services. Putting employees at the top of your priority list will pay you back many times over with increased loyalty, perseverance, and quality of work.
5. Leading is what you do with people, not to people.
While it's true that leadership involves a certain amount of direction, monitoring, and discipline, the best leaders realize that their role is to coach their employees to better performance by supporting them. Give your employees the training and resources that they need, support them when they need your help, and then get out of their way.
6. Make work fun--and profitable.
Most of us spend roughly one-third of our lives at work. Do your employees look forward to coming to work in the morning or do they dread even the thought of walking through your doors? When you make your workplace a fun place to be, the result is engaged employees. And this positive energy is contagious--it is sure to rub off on your customers and clients. Make both fun and profit key goals of your organization.
7. Always ask: What do our customers value?
A great deal of time and money is wasted doing things that make no contribution whatsoever to what customers and clients value. First, ask your customers what they care about. Next, review your organization with a keen eye, ensuring that every employee is focused on activities that directly support your customers' values.