With energetic, global competition the order of the day, you need to get the most from the people you work with. But motivating people and getting people to follow you is easier said than done.
Leadership is more than just creating a vision and pursuing it with passion. It is more than doing whatever it takes to get the people around you to bring your vision to life. Forget all the empowerment and new age stuff. Good leadership means getting back to the basics and take charge.
One of the most important requirements of a leader knows what you expect of yourself and of those you are leading. You have to know your strengths and your weaknesses. Know particularly what bothers people around you, what bugs people about you.
As a leader you have to be magnanimous. Share your power and your time. Leadership is not the accumulation and holding of power. Leadership is sharing that power, giving away that power, sharing your time with people, not holding that time for yourself.
Leader’s identity, nurture, and protect the innovators. The innovators are very important in any organization. They are the people who are constantly coming up with new ideas. Finding the innovators, nurturing the innovators, protecting the innovators from their bad ideas, and protecting the organization from their bad ideas, are all very important for a leader to do. But most important of all is listening to and grabbing their good ideas and turning them into new initiatives.
A leader must be decisive. An unwritten rule that many successful leaders follow is, when they have 60 percent of the information they need to make a decision, they go ahead and make it. The 60 percent rule is very flexible. To make some decisions, you may need 80 percent of the information. In some cases, you may need 90 percent. But don’t wait until you have 100 percent or 99 percent, or you may be weeks, months, or even years late in making that decision.
In some situations, you even have to go below 60 percent. But the 60 percent rule is a good rule of thumb. If you’ve been in a leadership’s position for any length of time, you should know approximately how much information you really need, and then don’t accept something less before you make that decision. Being decisive is at the core of successful leadership.
As a leader you should never become indispensable and you should not allow others to become indispensable either. If you allow someone who works directly for you to become so indispensable that you rely on that person exclusively, what happens when he or she dies or gets reassigned or quits or retires? And the same is true for you. If you become indispensable to your organization and then you leave, you don’t have someone to turn over the job and responsibilities to. You should become more and more dispensable, rather than more and more indispensable, so you can walk away for a week, a month, or even a year and the organization will continue to grow and prosper.
Leaders are not silent. If something is going on that needs to be spoken about or identified they speak up. For example, if you’re in a meeting and something is about to be decided, and you know it’s going in the wrong direction. Raise your hand and say, wait a minute. We need to think this through a little bit more. There may be a better way to do this?
Some people think that they can’t speak up or shouldn’t speak up or it’s not appropriate to speak up, but they know that they should. If they’re uncomfortable speaking up in a big meeting, then they must go to the boss and quietly make the point that something very bad is going on, a bad decision is about to be made, there are bad integrity problems. That is the responsibility of all people at all levels.
You must be a visionary leader. Set some long-term goals and priorities. Stretch your mind. Have a dream, then articulate and implement it. A vision must say yes to some ideas and no to others. Help shape the vision. Encourage people to help you in shaping the vision. Make sure that being a visionary leader is not a solo exercise. It’s really a group exercise. Collect your people around you and ask them to help you shape that vision so they have ownership of that vision, ownership of that plan, so they will help you implement it as you go forward.
Leaders stay intellectually active. Someone will always come who is very competent in a job, but over time, loses competence because he or she doesn’t keep up with the new ideas, the new technologies, and new concepts. Don’t allow yourself to become brain dead. The future is coming fast. We are in the Information Age and a technological slingshot is going on right now.
You must stay intellectually active by reading books, and listening to audio programs. The leader who does not remain intellectually active by following a good reading program, listening to audio programs, and going to mind-stretching seminars slowly but surely becomes brain dead and can no longer be an enlightened or effective leader.
A good leader is ambitious to do, not to be. Avoid power trips. Don’t confuse who you are with what you are. Leadership is not about the accumulation of power. Leadership is actually giving away power. Ambition is an important quality. Leaders should be ambitious. But they should be ambitious to do important things, to help their organization improve, to set new goals or objectives, and to break into new paradigms. Not to be, but to do.
You should always help people move up in the organization, but be careful not to fall in love with employees and push them beyond their level of competence. If you give someone a really big push because he or she is a wonderful employee, don’t go back every two or three months and give him or her another push, or you may push that person to the point of where he or she can’t handle the next big job.
One of the bad aspects or larger organizations is that often the managers will play favorites. In other words, friends of the boss work their way up well beyond their level of competence, and it hurts the organization. If you’re a manager or director at any level, make sure you are never guilty of playing favorites. Make sure that the best people are promoted and the people who aren’t as competent are moved slowly through the organization.
One of the fascinating aspects of leadership is trying to help people understand what the mission is, what the goals and priorities are, and trying to simplify very complex matters, so you can make everyone in the organization understand what the issues are, what the important priorities are. But as you go through that process of simplification, you must be sure to then mistrust it, because you, as the leader, don’t want to oversimplify the issue for yourself. You must understand that it is, in fact, a complicated issue.
So don’t fake yourself out by simplifying to help others understand the issue, and then assuming that the simplification is, in fact, the truth. Because, the truth is the complexity, not the simplification.
Leaders need to be able to identify where integrity problems are beginning to develop. Then they must focus a lot of leadership and management attention on the integrity problems. In most organizations, the integrity problems exist among a very few people. Those people must be identified and counseled. And if they’re unwilling to conform to the integrity standards of the organization, they must be fired, because if you allow them to continue to operate at low levels of integrity, it will bring down the whole organization over time.
Managing the bottom line is not enough; you must also be able to manage both the tangibles and intangibles. One tangible of great importance is trust. Can you trust, do you trust, and do people trust you? Is there trust in every direction in the organization, upward, downward, and sideways?
You also need to manage the perceptions. How do people in your organization feel about the mission? How do they feel about you? How do they feel about the integrity in the organization? How do they feel about going to work? Those are all perceptions, but you need to understand them and work on them.
How about morale? Is morale good? Your morale may be great, but people who work for you may have low morale. You need to know that. You need to know the reasons for the low morale. You need to work on the low morale. You need to solve those problems of low morale, so the morale can reach high proportions.
If you mange the intangibles well, and also the tangibles will you will be a great leader.