My elements of a successful leader are:
3. Leading Change: Is your team comfortable with change? Are you? The ability to be flexible as business conditions change is always a function of great leadership. As John Kotter says in his book “Leading Change”, make sure you reward your team for the right behaviors. Understanding and getting excited about new things is a hallmark of good teams. You are the one who must create that excitement.
4. Unleashing the Power of People: When you have built the right team you must let them run. Great teams never fear mistakes. Your job is to pick them up when they do; learn from them and then get better. Are you empowering them or holding them back?
5. Developing Leaders and Creating Opportunities: Leaders are not born. It is your role to create them. Put your people in leadership positions whether it is a new project, an ongoing program or simply an idea. Find ways for them to lead. The skills they develop will reward the entire team tenfold. It might get you promoted too.
6. Competitors Should Be External: You don’t want your people competing with each other. It creates individual agenda’s and dilutes the team focus on company success. Make sure you are attributing success to the team as well as to individuals.
7. Implement a Three Pronged Approach of People, Processes and Service: Jack Welch said “people first; strategy second”. Putting people first is the key enabler of the best practices, processes and services that can separate your company from the pack. Energy generated from interpersonal relationships provides the fuel needed to optimize processes and excel service expectations.
8. Develop a Vision and Set of Values: Involve the entire workforce in the development process. This will assure buy-in to where you are going and how you will get there. Strategy means little if you do not have a vision of the future or why you need to get there. A set of values is a foundation that employees all embrace making decisions easier and guiding your direction. If it fits the values you have set, you do it. If not, you don’t. Regularly communicating core values and company vision will become a driving force in your company.
9. Communication: Talked about a great deal but rarely practiced. You must make communication a continual focus for your team. Utilize existing tools on a daily basis while constantly developing new communication channels. When your employees know exactly what is happening and why, they will support you even in tough times. As John Kotter has said “Communicate, Communicate, Communicate “. There is no such thing as too much.
10. Involve the Entire Company Front to Back: Develop and practice the attitude that everyone owns the company. Value all contributions and constantly encourage your team to do so. When people truly believe they are valued and are respected organizational success is not far behind.
11. Celebrate Successes and Have Fun: Find reasons to get the workforce together and celebrate new programs, cost reduction, retirements, birthdays. Anything that fosters a feeling of family and support. You spend much of your time with your fellow employees - if you create an enjoyable working atmosphere they will look forward to coming in each day and contributing to everyone’s future. This is especially true during tough economic times.
12. Be a Great Listener: Ask yourself if you actually listen. Do you focus on hearing what the team has to say? Are you learning each day as a leader? If you see new ideas and energy contributed by your team members each day, I will bet you are a good listener. If the only ideas in your head are your own, you are not. Make it a priority!
That’s it in a nutshell - my twelve elements of successful leadership. No book, just a simple set of practices and beliefs that work. If you are not following something these core practices, it is likely you and your team are not enjoying your work. True leadership is the only way to navigate your company through the recession, and focusing on the core elements mentioned above will transform survival into success.