Recently I have attended a seminar where the presenter asked a simple question: What makes a good leader?
You can imagine that from a room with almost 100 people proposals were coming out as a shotguns. People shared thoughts about their understanding what really a good leader should look like. After a short brainstorming session we came out with 38 different characteristics of what a good leader really looks like.
Let me tell you a story about the characteristics of the leader:
Ten years ago I have joined the team of a local company. They were market leader in their segment presenting high quality brands for the local market. People on managerial positions were recruited from bigger companies with international know how. They were educated in the leadership terminology and used it widely to judge employees performance, discuss on potential for other roles etc. But you know there was something missing n this company. Those people, holding their senior positions were not respected from their teams. The Sales manager couldn’t handle good relationship with the sales people and they often did things that he didn’t like, but they thought will be successful. The Warehouse manager couldn’t organize his department work, because most of the practices she wanted to implement were seen as innovations from the CEO and his team, but not from the people inside the Warehouse. The Finance manager was seen as an excellent expert, but in terms of partnership, help, flexibility she was not recognized even from her team.
And there were Quality manager, a Marketing manager and the CEO who were trustworthy and people consulted more with them than with their own department managers.
I first consulted this company for a couple of months and analyzed the situation and then, one day I’ve had a very long discussion with the CEO explaining that if he wants to grow further as a business and team, he has to change this situation. We discussed that he needs someone to teach his senior leaders what a good Manager and leader looks like.
That led for me to joining the company as their HR Manager. I’ve had a very hard task to fulfill, I had to change people and mindset. After almost 2 years of a hard work we came out with a real leadership team who ensured company transformation and growth(their sales grew up with more than 26% only for a year, and they decreased time invested in different processes with almost 17%.
Here are the principles we followed up to ensure this will happen:
- Behave with integrity – if you want to win people on your side then be honest with them. Show them that you are open for conversations and not hide any information from them, that can help them do their work.
- Be thrusting and trustworthy – If you want people to show their potential they need to trust you. And you need to trust them.
- Respect others for who they are and what they say – Don’t think that the Manager is leader be position. A true leader always respects and accepts people the way they are. Don’t push them to change, but help them go through the way that can change them.
- Communicate openly and effectively – Communication is the key to the other person heart. If you want people to believe and follow you, be ready to break the walls in communication set by the old standard Manager-Employee. And don’t forget that all your people are here to do some work. When communicating with them show that as they have to value your time also you value their by not prolonging communication with parasite time. Be direct and straight to the point.
- Seek out and listen to the views of others – there is nothing more disappointing then to sit somewhere, have ideas and not be listen. What people need more then the air they breathe is to be listen. Your role as a leader is to encourage them to participate in conversations and not favorites’ one or other opinion based on your internal connection with a single person, or the understanding that the one with the most senior position in the room must be always right.
- Positively acknowledge people’s contribution – Employees always invest the time and effort they think is their maximum in the beginning of a task. They start with enthusiasm, think, feel, plan, execute their plans to ensure that you will get the final product as soon as possible for them. Different people have different level of contribution to fulfillment of your tasks and goals, but they have always invested maximum to help you. Give them a praise for their effort will help them to stay motivated and further continue to grow.
- Be personally effective – One mistake I often see is a leader expecting high level of efficiency without being so effective in their own time and tasks fulfillment. To expect higher level of efficiency from the people around, you have to set the standard and understanding what efficiency really looks for you. In other worlds Make people efficient by example.
- Be positive and enthusiastic – Behavior and emotions can change people’s results. If you want to stimulate positive behavior then be the example for one. Show others how you look positively at every challenge and how this helps you deliver the results you have promised.
- Provide support encouragement and motivation – People are not easy to be motivated. Even with the grown ups often you will have to act as with small children. Be there for the people. Don’t give them decision or do their work, but be there where they need you – supporting with words and actions to ensure that your people will help you deliver your results.
- Take personal development seriously – The world is changing. People in this world are also changing. They read more, they have access to new tools, information sources, approaches on how to upgrade work. Your biggest mistake will be to stay with what is well known. Old ways don’t work so good in a changed environment. If you want to stay ahead of the people you need to move ahead too. Read books, attend courses and seminars, discuss with people on good practices you can implement. Show others that you are aware that the world is changing and your changing with it.
There is no doubt that the world is changing. People expect more and more from their leaders. The last are always pushed to strive to new heght. To succeed in that hard game of surviving leaders have to focus on building positive environment and ensuring productive environment where innovations drive success.