Leadership as a word has a definition, but the reality is that we all know that leadership is almost undefinable. Everyone has their own take of what leadership looks like or what a leader is. Some thrive in leading while others are just comfortable following. Both are just fine and doesn’t mean your weak or arrogant if you choose to be one or the other. I will attempt to tell you my thoughts on leadership in the following writing. Again this is my defenition of what I look for in a leader and how I attempt to lead. It doesn’t make it right or wrong just makes it my style. Hopefully it sparks a conversation about your style and what works for others. Trust me I want to hear about it.
I’ll start with my foundation of how I lead people. My main focus and goal is to find out what motivates them or what makes the individual succesful in completing tasks. I have watched over the years too many leaders attempt to make their subordinates act just like them and in the end it rarely worked out, unless that person has a similar personality. Rather I find what makes them tick and conform to the varying styles of those I supervise. This is a lot harder and can take a manager or leader out of their comfort zone. I have always felt though that it is important for the leader to carry this burden rather than those who they supervise. Although difficult it can produce amazing results.
My initial conversation with a new employee generally begins the same way, I inform that we can all work as equals until your actions dictate other wise. This just means that I won’t take the “I am your boss or superior” method until I truly need to. I have found that this can help spark more conversation and allow those that you may supervise to have a little more ease when speaking. They may have ideas and contributions to add that may be of help, but being scared to speak may shut them down.
I have a belief in professional arguments. This happens a lot in today’s world but the biggest problem is that they can get personal. Having a professional argument is healthy in many ways as long is it doesn’t get combative. The main focus is that you can argue over one topic but be able to start all over again on a new one. The world moves to fast to waste time holding on to long. This again will be on the shoulders of the manager or leader. It will be his or her responsibility to keep it civil, yet make the room calm after a passionate discussion. You want to be able to have lunch with these people later on.
Loyalty and Respect are major factors and many times confusing. Leaders tend to get caught up in that their subordinates must show them loyalty and respect because they allow them to work for them and they get a pay check each week. Monetary compensation doesn’t create loyalty or respect. These people work for you so you OWE them a pay check. Loyalty is a two-way street just as much as respect is a two way street. You can’t demand these without starting off with them. Employees want to know that you are going to be there for them during tough times just as much as you would expect them to be there for you during tough times. This takes many leaders out of their comfort zones. You have to view these qualities as fluid items constantly moving. Just becuase you showed respect or loyalty once doesn’t garner you the return for a life time. The best part is that if you show loyalty or respect in small doses employees will return it in a large quantities. It means a lot to them so hand it out.
Get past judging someone based off of their personality. This is difficult, very difficult. We have all had that guy or gal that we have worked with that everyone believes is weird, creepy, or just off a little bit. This may be a opportunity to take on a surprising challenge. We tend to shoot ourselves in the foot by turning people away because we can’t get past our first impression. Yes people can be awkward, quirky, and just strange sometimes. With that being said though we may be missing out on someone who is truly talented and just need to be mentored our guided into the right direction. Remember at some point someone took a chance on you.
Stop trying to fix the weaknesses of grown adults. We waste way to much time trying to fix individuals weaknesses and avoid improving their strengths. It is much easier to improve something that is already working rather than slowly trying to fix something that doesn’t work. If someone is a terrible public speaker they can slowly get better over time, yet if they are amazing at communicating on social media then allow them to be great there, and have some one else talk to the public. Exposing weakness is counter productive and harping on them will not build up that personal equity that is so valuable.
You as a leader must constantly build personal equity in your subordinates and employee. Small acts of kindness can build equity within an employee like you wouldn’t believe. Don’t kill an employee over being late because their kid got sick and they had to drop them off at school one morning. Relate to it and let them know it is okay. This doesn’t mean you should allow someone to walk all over you or take advantage of your kindness but one incident shouldn’t be a determining factor of whether someone is going to be a good employee or not. Things like letting people head home earlier becuase the snow is piling up builds equity. Bringin in coffee and doughnuts builds equity. Actually asking and truly caring about someones family helps build equity. Personal equity is an amazingly strong trait to build in an company, and is irreplacable but quckly lost if taken advantage off.
As I stated in the beginning this isn’t a fail safe way to lead people or supervise. It is just tools to add to a toolbox of managing styles and methods. The best thing you can do is find what your great qualities are and work on making them better. Continue to build personal equity with those that you work with, make them feel apart of something. People want to be emotionally invested into what they are doing. If they can’t do that eventually they will leave. Remeber these are people, members of your community and in a lot of cases friends. As a leader you should be constantly refining your craft and learning new and improved methods, also don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes. Create employess who are happy and invested, if you lose this side, or miss a chance to get them invested and you may miss out on something special.
Just my thoughts.