Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tips for enhancing leadership skills

There is a huge difference between being " the leader " as opposed to being " a leader "! If you own a business or run a department or oversee and direct the actions of your employees ... it is reasonable to say that you are, in fact, the leader. There are also people in your sphere of influence, if not right in your company, who despite the fact it is not in their job description and regardless of authority or qualification workers will seek out for answers, advice, and inspiration. These are the people I would call " a leader "! I'd wager just about everybody knows one of these people, and what makes them who and what they are has little to do with their station in life, their education, or how successful they are ... it's about how they relate to people. They bring out the best in everybody around them ... not because their associates have to, but because they want to!

Leadership is a somewhat unique quality in that the only way to truly measure it is by the extent to which others are willing to follow, and even that is difficult to quantify. Furthermore, the traits and quality's that make someone a good leader are often different things to different people. That being said, there are a few aspects of leadership that are universal, and the more we are able to integrate these principles into our managerial style, the more likely it is that our employees will respond optimally to our direction.

Accountability: We've all seen the guy who as soon as something goes wrong he starts looking around for someone to blame! As a manager you certainly own at least part of the blame for any thing that goes wrong in your department. Go ahead and take the blame right from the start, then move on to correcting the situation.

Communicate: Don't just talk to your people ... talk with them. If you aren't willing to listen to them, chances are they will be less willing to listen to you. Go beyond " just " listening ... ask questions and try to understand their ideas. This goes a long way toward developing a team mentality.

Praise: Actively seek out something positive to say about the job everyone you supervise is doing. Whenever possible praise them in front of other employees, clients, or managers ... nobody does any better of a job than a man who takes pride in his work!

Support: There are times when we can all be overwhelmed by our workload, if someone needs a little help to get over the hump ... roll up your sleeves and jump right in. Often enough lightening their load even by a small margin will completely change your employees view what they are able to handle, and at those times when you need to ask them to go the extra mile for you they will be happy to return the favor. Also under the category of " support " I would add ... stand up for your people ... never let anything negative be said by another employee or even another manager without good reason. By defending them you show that not only are they on your team, but that, you are on their team as well!

Reward: Raises and bonuses are great, but, in these troubled economic times they are not always possible. Still their are other ways to reward your employees and make them feel appreciated. Anytime you receive an email or letter commending them for a job well done, let them know you're putting a copy in their file and that the next time raises come around it will be part of what is considered. Take your team out to lunch, and don't turn it in to a meeting, just let it be a token of your appreciation. Start an employee of the month program or give out small awards semi regularly for exceptional performance.

These are just a few ideas for showing your people your confidence and appreciation for them. By incorporating these practices into your day to day managerial habits you will see their defenses drop, their productivity rise, and their confidence in, and appreciation for you will double ... I've seen it happen! You will be the kind of person they want to follow ... and not just the guy they have to!

Yes I am For Hire!

Contact Rick Thomas at 239 896-7020

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