There is an old riddle about leadership: “What do all the great leaders in the world have in common?”
In the answer are clues to leadership that are so often overlooked.
A leader recognizes employee talent, aptitude and the benefits received by that employee by doing a good job. When a person is happy with the work and proud of the outcome, they are vested; they have skin in the game. This creates the ideal win-win situation for the company. A great manager knows enough of each person’s abilities to utilize expertise to the fullest while minimizing their weaknesses. A leader is a mentor, bringing out the best in each individual. A leader does not have to have the expertise of each employee, but must have the expertise of an organizer and expediter, which makes the workplace more productive, efficient and cost-effective.
Why is this skill so overlooked and undervalued? Perhaps it is our corporate culture where a manager is placed into an established team; great military leaders have begun with similar circumstances, however. A true leader will soon be choosing new team members, as their skillful team members are promoted throughout the company.
A Leader Deals in Realities and Provable Facts
Results matter – intentions do not. A true leader clearly defines goals and deadlines. If goals cannot be defined and charted, they are too vague to be met. A leader clearly states what is non-negotiable and what is open to suggestion. A leader values the suggestions then made. Roadblocks to productivity should be noticed early and support supplied before an employee becomes frustrated and dissatisfied. A true leader inspires people to concentrate on the job and recognizes performance friction immediately.
Why is this skill so overlooked and undervalued? Much is discussed today about employee attitudes, morale and workplace friction. Inappropriate or nonproductive behavior needs to be dealt with by a manager immediately – a professional in psychiatry best deals with attitudes.
A Leader Establishes a Code of Conduct
We are back to clarity and communication. Clearly demanding professional conduct promotes efficiency and establishes respect between colleagues. You may find that employee ‘Attitude’ is not important when common-sense good manners and efficient interaction are in place. A leader communicates in writing and in meetings. In our multicultural world, it is important to develop a clear statement of what the standards are for your corporation and provide this in writing to each member of the team. Written agendas passed out prior to meetings should emphasize promptness, preparedness and the value of pertinent participation. (Some cultures feel it is rude to speak up unless called upon. Promptness is cultural. Time is money, so those who arrive early waste as much time as those who arrive late.) Meetings should have goals and approximate ending times. Memos should clearly be information sharing. If suggestions are welcome, this should be stated in the memo.
Why is this skill so overlooked and undervalued? Perhaps our corporate striving toward ‘tolerance’ in many areas has left us with an inexact standard of expected professional conduct and a hesitation to demand required behavior.
And the answer to the riddle? “The only thing all great leaders have in common is that all have followers!”
Sam Godlin is an HR manager and guest author at HumanResourcesMBA.net, where he contributed to the guide to the Top 10 Best HR MBA Programs.
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