Want to be a great leader? A truly inspirational, effective agent of your team’s success? There is literally nothing harder – or more important – in the world of work. That’s why good leaders are so rare in real life.
If that discourages you, them maybe you don’t have what it takes to lead after all. If it motivates you instead? Well, then, here are a few tips to take it from “in charge guy/gal” to “The best leader ever!”
1. Repeat after me (to your staff): “My job is to make your job easier.”
No, your job is not to give them the day off to shop while you finish up their work for them. But your job as leader – your only job, as leader – is to remove impediments to your people’s success. Take the obstacles out of their way so they can do the important work of your company: serving your customers!
2. Be an umbrella for your people
To continue on the theme of number one, too often leaders find themselves required to shield their people from negativity from up the ladder. That’s The Law of The Umbrella (http://www.tedcoine.com/archives/200). Obey the law!
3. Foster friendships among your staff
Off-site play days are important – they are! But nothing builds camaraderie and team spirit like shared success as the result of shared struggle. What’s your team’s greater goal? What significant challenge are you confronting that all of you can be proud of overcoming together?
4. Reward for the big things. And the medium things. And even the itty-bitty little things.
We like praise. We crave recognition. One winner-takes-all vacation or mega-bonus for the year’s top performer is great and all, but how about a $5 Starbucks, or even a made-up certificate from your printer, because someone filed her report on time?
5. Push them.
People of quality want to be good at their jobs. Kindly help them to improve. …Kindly, but maybe not gently.
6. Dump the losers fast.
I had to learn this one the hard way when I was running my own firm. But you know what? Once I got it, it transformed our business. No one likes to work with slackers or dopes – except other slackers and dopes!
7. Hire slowly and caaaaarefully!
Show your current team members and your new recruits that not just anybody belongs on your team. If you want to build an elite group, hire elite performers. You’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs as you vet the talent pool.
8. Give them something important to get up for in the morning
Remember number 3, with the part about shared challenges? Pick a really, really lofty goal. Crazy-lofty. Then make pursuit of that the rallying cry of your team. Change lives, change the world, change how business is done; don’t just settle to change who wins this year’s sales contest.
9. Break bread with your team – often!
Roughly speaking, you have about 240 chances a year to eat lunch with your staff. That’s not a lot, so don’t squander a day of it! We let down our guard when we eat. We share our innovative ideas, our observations; we dish about our kids. Soak that up. Your people are your teachers. Learn from them!
10. Brag about them all day every day
Talk your staff up to your peers, to their peers, to your boss and her boss and heck, to the security guard, too. Be proud of each of them, and share that pride with anyone who’ll listen. Word will filter back to them, and as it does, it will have ten times the impact of a direct compliment.
11. Expect the world of them
Establish with your team how highly you respect and admire them. Demand incredible feats of them. They will live up to your image of them, no matter what it takes.
12. Be worthy of their effort
Want to really be the best, most effective leader ever? Work to improve yourself every day, in every way that is important to your team’s success. In order to lead a group of champions to new heights, you as leader must be worthy of the team’s time and energy. And that’s a lot more than we have room for in one blog post.
You will never be as good as you can be as a leader. But every hour of every day, if you’re sufficiently devoted to the success of your team, you can improve. Keep at it, and your people will start bragging about you – to their peers, your peers, your boss and her boss. And yes, even to the security guards.
When it percolates back to you how admired you are by those you serve as leader… you’ll be infinitely prouder than if they told you themselves!