January 31, 2015
“What makes a leader in your company?” That was a simple question asked by one of my mentors recently as I described the excitement for an upcoming senior leadership team meeting. How do I describe a leader? What does a leader in our company possess? This led me to these 6 results of excellent leader:
1. Investing time in their followers.
How many times have you heard people credit former leaders and bosses for teaching them and making them better in their trade? Nearly every leader does it when given the opportunity. As I recently sat at the Inc 5000 awards, I had the chance to listen to Marcus Lemonis speak. On the TV Show “The Profit,” he helps lead companies out of poor financial situations with his own money and ideas. At the conference, he clearly spoke about the mentors who taught him the ropes and helped him become the businessman he is. Great leaders invest the time to grow their followers.
2. Excelling at getting stuff done.
A common piece of advice for leaders who come into new companies is to start by getting your hands dirty and seeing what is going on in the front lines where the money is made. Real leaders have a knack for getting stuff done and especially clearing anything away which is blocking their team’s success. Successful leaders roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty regularly.
3. Over-communicating vision in a persuasive way.
No one likes to follow a leader who only leads by authority. Authority may give you the ability to hire and fire, but it doesn’t give you the ability to successfully lead. Leaders use their persuasiveness, ability to gather consensus, and vision to create a team where people choose to follow the directions. They do this by creating a vision and over-communicating it until it is engrained in the team that they lead. People follow because this leader’s vision has resonated with them and is clearly understood.
4. Delivering an even amount of hard truths and praise to their team.
Everyone has had a leader, boss, parent, or coach who seems to be too hard on his or her people. It creates an environment where people do not feel successful and are unhappy with the outcome themselves. The opposite can be problematic in which a leader heaps so much praise on a team they never see the areas of improvement needed. Balancing praise and hard truths is difficult but important to grow a team. A good leader can deliver well-accepted criticism because of the proportionate praise given when due.
5. Treating everyone with respect.
Have you seen a “managing up” leader? One who is worried about what upper management thinks of them and ignores the people on their team? Unfortunately, this happens all too often in the corporate world and is a character trait of bad leaders. Eventually if these types succeed, they are catering to the owners while quality and culture suffer. The most endearing leader treats everyone with the same respect. This is the best way to facilitate clear and open communication while keeping teams productive.
6. Continually educating those around them.
A leader who knows it all will not realize when they stopped knowing it all. Leaders who are humble enough to recognize that they must continually learn in order to grow themselves are amazing to follow. These leaders are often active listeners who are ready to receive information at any time. Leaders who are open-minded enough to learn and educate themselves are also willing to listen to ideas from those around them. These leaders ultimately help to educate everyone around them.
These are just some of the fruits of labor from great leaders. What other results have you seen from great leaders?