Leadership is a subject that has been written about so frequently that I think it may possibly break the internet one day. I want this article to be different. From the outset, let’s assume that most of you already have your own preconceived ideas about the word “leadership”. So, before we begin, let me tell you how I define leadership:
“The ability to authentically live your life at such a high level that it compels those around you to follow suit.”
For example, when your team is saddened by a problem at work, not because they fear you’ll blame them, but because they let you down….you are a leader. You see, leaders don’t manage, they coach. For that matter, managers don’t lead, they boss.
BONUS: Free “mind-bomb”…Ready?….Keep reading….. Leaders create other leaders and managers create compliant drones. Who do you want filling the ranks at your business?
Here are 3 steps to improve in your leadership skills:
Step one: Get a mentor
Every truly great businessman (or businesswoman) recognizes that the key to success is building a great team. A team filled with people who are smarter than they are. Great leaders don’t just exude greatness; they also must absorb it.
While we are on this topic you should know that every day of your life you are absorbing something. Make sure you are absorbing good information & wisdom from a person more advanced than you in their maturity, knowledge, or business prowess.
Find a mentor. Yesterday.
Step Two: Elastic Engagement
No two humans are exactly the same. The problem is, we often lead all of the people on our team in exactly the same way. This is pure madness. There is a great book on marriage called The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. The basic premise is that each person has different “touch-points” in the way they feel loved and appreciated. In a similar manner, we need to understand what makes our staff members ‘tick’, and it will be different for each person. Some people thrive under pressure, while others crack. Some only have to be gently nudged, while others need a testosterone filled beat-down to get the motivational gears turning. Your job is to learn the nuances of each person on your staff and adapt your leadership to their needs.
You can study your team analytically almost like a scientist. In my business, I actually kept a “secret spreadsheet” of the things that were most important to my key employees. I knew the names of their family members, their hobbies, favorite sports teams, and the key motivators to maximize each person’s individual work level. Sometimes it was public recognition for a job well done. Sometimes it was money. Find out what makes your future leaders ‘tick’ and then engage them with the appropriate tone and verbiage.
Step Three: Don’t Manage
The day you stop babysitting your team, micro-managing their every move, treating them like sheep, is the day they will stop acting like sheep and contribute real value to your team. You may have hired them for their backs, but why not get the use of their brain too, right?
Here are the keys to stop managing people:
- Bring them into the process. Give them a seat at the table. This means they get to have an opinion and it’s heard.
- Push them to make decisions without asking for your permission. They’re adults. Allow them,and encourage them, to make intelligent choices or they will never develop.
- Give them room to fail. They need to know that if they make an honest mistake, you are on their team, not ready to pounce on them like a hungry lion.
The 15 year old kid at McDonalds needs a manager. The staff in your service business need a leader who will invest in them on an individual level. Your employees will go to war with you when they believe that you genuinely care about them and their families. Stand shoulder to shoulder with each team member and lead them to success.
Take care and may God bless the work of your hands.