3 Be’s of Leadership

It’s guest post Monday! This post is written by Chris Hendrix who is a Senior Sales Trainer that helps managers improve their results through coaching and behaviors of their employees.  He also puts out a daily devotional that is designed to encourage Christians to not be defined by their circumstances and to be who God calls them to be. You can read his blog by clicking here and follow him on Twitter.

I’ve heard it said that if you’re leading others, you better look behind you and make sure others are following. Just because you think you’re a leader or have manager in your title it doesn’t mean you’re a leader. Leaders find a way to inspire others to follow them even when the goals seem unrealistic or unattainable. The know how to foster a belief that says, “We can do this.” In my years as a business owner and now as a manager, I’ve found three things every leader needs in order to make sure people follow.

1. Be Honest

One of the first pieces of advice I give any new manager is, “Say what you’re going to do and what you say.” I don’t care what it takes or costs you, if you make a promise, keep it. The first barrier any manager has to overcome is trust. If you’re followers don’t trust you, you’ll be looking back and no one will be behind you. You must set realistic expectations and goals. They must be attainable. When your team is accustomed to attaining goals regularly, you can get them to hit stretch goals because you say it’s possible and lead the way.

2. Be Clear

Goals mean nothing if you can’t clearly articulate them. Tom Landry, the famous coach of the Dallas Cowboys, had a genius idea for football. His concepts were unheard of at the time. He could have started winning sooner if he had known how to articulate his ideas to his team. The best plans and vision mean nothing if you can’t put it in simple terms that any team member can easily understand and know where they fit in. Habakkuk 2:2 tells us to write the vision, make it plane so that those who read it can run with it. Without a clear vision, your followers will perish.

3. Be Human

Being a leader doesn’t mean you are above doing certain jobs. My philosophy has always been that if I was your leader, I should be able to do any job of one of my subordinates. If that’s taking out the trash, I need to be better than that person. If it’s customer service, I need to know what our policies are and be able to communicate them to our customers. If it’s sales, I need to be able to sell and do all the paperwork involved. Don’t be afraid to show your followers that you can do their work and that their job is not beneath who you are.  You will find that they will respect you for it and be more open to your coaching.

I know this isn’t everything that a good leader needs to have, but I feel it’s a good starting point. I usually ask leaders to describe for me a leader in their life that inspired them to get better at their craft. I hear a lot of great things that those coaches, managers or mentors did.  After they tell me, I tell them to go and do those things. If it worked on you, chances are it will work on others. Great leaders have the same habits, but they put their own personal touches on them.

Question: So what are some other things you’ve seen great leaders do to inspire others to follow?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

    I would add “Be Sure.” Not just confidence, but you have to know what you want and be sure of your choices. I find the leaders in my life to be people who don’t look to others for guidance, they are sure of what they want and they demand authority in a non-threatening way. Those are the leaders.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Thanks for adding. I agree. One of the things I always tell leaders is, “There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. One will inspire others to follow you and the other will cause them to leave you.”

      • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

        Very true, but at times I worry if I cross the line over to arrogance. Some of my friends at time joke about it when I’m sarcastic and I wonder if I sometimes bleed over.

        • Chris Hendrix

          I would suggest that you have a friend give you their honest opinion. I’ve always heard there’s a little truth in every joke. There’s a time for joking and sarcasm, but there are more times when you need to be serious. Wisdom and experience will help you discern when those times are.

          • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

            Everyone’s afraid of honesty because they fear the consequences it brings. I’ve made it a point to make it incredibly clear that honesty is the one thing that is rarest in my life and that the people who bring me honesty are that much more treasured.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I’m with you on the fact leaders need to be confident. Though I tend to disagree with the statement that leaders shouldn’t look to others for guidance. I think that’s actually one of the major pitfalls of leaders. Even the Bible tells us we’re to look to others for advice, in the counsel of many there is wisdom.

      • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

        Hm, perhaps I’ve worded it poorly. Very true that leaders should learn from others, but I think I should have said that leaders are more self-reliant and I don’t need the constant guidance of others. I’m a big fan of learning through others, after all. :)

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Thanks for the clarification Vincent. I can see that being true!

  • http://www.vishnusvirtues.com/ Vishnu

    I love the last example about doing the most menial and basic tasks. As leaders, we can only lead when we know what’s going on the ground and what people are experiencing daily. The reality show undercover boss is a great example. The boss goes into a local franchise store to see what’s going on. But why do we need a tv show for them to do that?? ha. boss’s should be regularly visiting their stores, businesses, staff and employees to get a pulse of what’s happening.

    The more human and personable you are to the people you are leading, the more of themselves they will give to you, your cause or business. Thanks for the GP Chris.

    • Chris Hendrix

      I appreciate you bringing up this show. I hadn’t thought of this show when I was reading this. The principle applies even to Fortune 500 companies. Too many leaders are making decisions without understanding what’s happening on the front lines.

  • http://www.acalltoaction.net/ Trevor Wilson

    Be humble. Always give credit where credit is due. Help those who follow you to become leaders themselves. Selfless acts performed in good faith always come back to you ten fold. So understand that your success has been achieved in good part by those who’ve helped you along the way. Don’t let it go to your head . . . and return the favor.

    Cheers!

    • Chris Hendrix

      Nice. I’ve heard it said that leaders should take more blame than is theirs and less credit when it comes to their team. Their finger should be pointing at their team when the conversation is about success.

  • http://www.mayura4ever.com/ Mayura De Silva

    Hi Chris,

    Wonderful ending ~ “Great leaders have the same habits, but they put their own personal touches on them.”

    Integrity is the key in everything. Isn’t it? Once I’ve work in a day job while my higher studies and knowing that I can’t trust on our team manager made me leave the job after all. Personally I really expect that from anyone as I don’t think about being dishonest. But the problem is managers tend to overlook this fact, while true leaders never miss it even with crucial deadlines.

    Being clear implies effective communication, right? :) I can recall some local small businesses in my country, bankrupted eventhough they had clear vision. But employees had no idea where to fit in and owners didn’t invest time to educate about ‘em either. You are very true that it’s not hiring best employees, but it’s a process contributed by a group.

    You are reminding me of my limited experience on a job again :) When it comes to deadlines, if you don’t know about the nature of job, you might pressure the employee just by focusing on outcome or expect beyond the capabilities. I know a leader has dignity, but showing followers will definitely gain respect instead of killing the dignity. I’ve experienced that :)

    Cheers…

    • Chris Hendrix

      You are right, integrity is the key to everything for a leader. If you don’t have that, you won’t have many followers. Experience is the best teacher. It seems you have already begun that process even though you say you have limited experience. Every job and every boss are opportunities to learn…even the bad ones.

  • http://www.barbraveling.com/ Barb Raveling

    I would add, “Be caring.” I’m far more inclined to follow a leader that reaches out to me and seems to honestly care about me.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Thanks for sharing. I definitely believe that caring for your team is huge. If leaders cared more about their people, their vision would be more easily attained.

  • http://theregoi.com/ floyd

    Great post. The simplest of ideas are always the best. I’d add courage to that list as well. Being fearless before the world with a vision that God is in has a way of making a leader even more followable.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Amen. Leadership isn’t about complicating things. Courage is huge as a leader. You need that in order to take others where you nor they have ever been. I like what Mark Batterson says, “If you can accomplish your vision without God, it’s too small.” It takes courage to step out in faith on a vision that He is in.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    Be original. Be innovative. Be Godly.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Thanks for adding those to the discussion. All three are quality traits that will inspire others.

  • http://www.mondayisgood.com/ Tom Dixon

    Along the same line at #1…setup an early quick win to gain momentum and credibility.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Good call. Start with success. I like to set attainable goals that we can attain quickly. Get them used to succeeding early and often.

  • http://www.nathanmagnuson.com/ Nathan Magnuson

    Great to see the two of you teaming up! Here’s one to think about: be realistic. If lofty goals are set without appropriate timelines, resources, information, training, support, accountability, etc, it’s pretty hard to succeed.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Thanks. I’ve started one that I’ll team up with you on. I agree on being realistic. Too often leaders lose momentum and followers by being unrealistic in what they are asking their team to do. You hit the nail on the head.

      • http://www.nathanmagnuson.com/ Nathan Magnuson

        Excellent!

  • Bernard Haynes

    Excellent post. I really liked number two, it was right on point. I wrote a post last month on making your vision plain http://bit.ly/YwgCuG. I would add be courageous. We need more leaders that are courageous to step up and lead the right way.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Great addition Bernard. Thanks for sharing the post. I know people would enjoy reading it.

      I would highly recommend reading and following Chris’s blog. He’s a great man of God.

      • Chris Hendrix

        Thanks, Dan for allowing me to guest post and for the kind words.

        • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

          Your welcome Chris. Thank you for writing such a great post.

    • Chris Hendrix

      I’ll have to read that post in a little bit. I like that you didn’t just leave it at courageous. Courageous doesn’t go far if you are going the right way. That comes from experience and faith.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Toss in Be First. Not in title or rank but in willing to try new things. If you’re not willing to be first, why should anyone desire to follow you?

    • Chris Hendrix

      Nice. Title and rank shouldn’t exclude you from being the one out front. After all, you are the leader. Be willing to take a risk and step out first.

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    I really like your point about working along side them, letting them know you’re not above their tasks.

    My dad ran his own business. He never asked anyone to do what he wasn’t willing to do himself. Often he took the harder tasks.
    He also taught me the importance of praying with people. You should never be too busy to stop what you’re doing and pray.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Great comment on prayer. Having owned my own business before, I know the importance of praying for and with your employees. It shows them that you care and are invested in their well being.

  • http://twitter.com/LeadingEveryday Juan Cruz Jr

    Number 3 speaks to me today. Just today I sent an email to my team asking them to be cognizant of communications going out to the team after regular business hours. I was reiterating their humanity and need for quality of life during and after regular work hours.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Good call. Work life balance is important for both leaders and their teams. If we go full throttle all the time we risk burning out. A burn out leader or team can’t accomplish much. There are times when we need to go above and beyond, but that can’t be all the time. Morale is the first casualty of burn out in my opinion. Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

    I really like what you say about clarity and simplicity. I trip up on that sometimes :)

    This would tie to your third point – be reachable. The leaders that have had the most impact in my life have been available.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Then I would say for you to find your way of being “available” as a leader and do that. Create an open door policy of some sort where you remove barriers between yourself and those who are following you. Remember that great leaders are raising up leaders beneath them. The main way to do that is to be available to them as a mentor and to explain why you do things the way you do.

  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    Be present. Be available.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Thanks for sharing those. We’ve all had leaders or bosses who weren’t present. If a leader isn’t present, what’s the incentive for the team to be present? Everyone and the vision suffer.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Great additions Jon.

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com/ Lincoln Parks

    Being Clear, I absolutely love that 3rd point. There great Leaders with great messages but if the message is not clear and cannot be broken down into easy chunks that are attainable then the message will become difficult to achieve. Love it, and great post.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Thanks for sharing Lincoln Parks. Clarity is so essential. I’m glad you enjoyed it. You should make sure to check out Chris’s blog.

      • http://www.lincolnparks.com/ Lincoln Parks

        I sure will.

  • Rob G

    Hello Chris, These are some good starting points, there’s some much involved when it comes to leadership, knowledge – is certainly at the top of the list and devotion.

    Thanks so much for a great read my friend.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Hello Rob,

      I totally agree. Knowledge and personal growth are so important when it comes to leading effectively. Thank you for sharing it.

  • http://www.theinspiredday.com/ Melanie Wilson

    Be a servant. The greatest leaders I’ve known have been humble servants. I love your advice about doing what you say you will. That’s huge.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      Great addition. I totally agree! Thank you for sharing it.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    I think another thing is to remind people WHY they’re doing what they’re doing. Setting a vision and connecting every task to that vision helps energize and motivate people. And because the leader is the one showing them that vision, they’ll follow the leader as a result.

    • Chris Hendrix

      I’m a big believer in giving the “why”. I personally believe that’s what helps them catch the vision. Knowing why you’re doing something provides motivation to keep going when things get tough.

  • http://twitter.com/write_clever Sue Neal

    Hi Dan and Chris – I love these three “Bs” – I’ve come across so many would-be leaders and managers who leave their integrity at home, confuse people with inconsistent, muddled directions and seem to think it’s weak to be ‘human’. This is great advice.

    • Chris Hendrix

      Thank you. I’ve come across many myself. My hope is that more leaders will take this advice and the advice that has been given in this comment section. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisors bring success.”