This is a guest post by Garrett Penn. Garrett is a freelance writer with a passion for all things business. His goal is to help other business men and women succeed in the workplace. Feel free to follow him on twitter.
A lot of people want to be a leader. However, there are several problems. Possessing an official leadership title is not enough to win employee trust. You have to demonstrate the talent for leadership in order to become a true leader. There are several things that you can do to become a leader of people. This article talks about the major methods. They all sprout from the classic ethical principles exemplified in the Golden Rule.
1. Practice Leadership Through Service
No one wants to follow a homeless man who barks financial demands from the street corner. Why? He is not serving his fellow community members at all. Socially, we gain the right to lead others the more we practice serving them. That is why politicians are called public servants. Now, sadly, many in power have apparently forgotten that role, but the point is still clear. A position of authority comes when we willingly obey the authorities above us cheerfully. An executive who wishes to become better at people management must do better at serving people.
2. Focus And Simplify The Goal
Although sales gurus like to make marketing tactics as complex as necessary to grab every type of person’s attention, this is bad for company leadership to practice. Having simple and clear goals is necessary, or no one will know what to do. Identify the goal. Repeat the goal publicly, and encourage the people who will help you achieve the goal.
Many of your employees will try to make the goal too complex. They will try to adapt the overall mission to help their particular department get what it wants. If accounting is allowed to set the pace, everything will be really slow and cautious. Important inventions will not be utilized, leading to tragic failures like that of Kodak Corporation. If the innovators are allowed to rule the game, your business will likely fail due to lack of funding. All of the people in the organization have to participate and give a little more than they want to.
3. Ignore Flattery
Many employees like to sweet talk their boss into giving them exactly what they want. This is bad. If someone affirms you too much, it is likely they are using you for their own selfish purposes. Make sure that the advice you are implementing has something that feels challenging to you as a leader as well. A goal that is too good to be true is probably unrealistic for the employees.
4. Ignore Excessive Criticism
Excessive criticism is equally as bad as flattery. It scares the organization into complacency. If an engineer is whining all day about something that is really only an issue for him, respectfully ignore it. Having a big picture perspective is crucial for moving forward. Remember that every person has a secret motivation. Knowing the secret motivations of your staff can keep you from letting popular but incompetent voices from scaring the organization away from progress.
5. Understand Organizational Psychology
Put people where they thrive. Challenge every person to step moderately outside of their comfort zone. Investing in a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) service or other hiring processes can help to make sure you are bringing on the right kind of employees that fit inside of your business. Bringing on the right employees will help gain confidence even more.
Leadership often must step outside of their comfort zone the most in order to earn employee trust. If everyone is sitting inside their comfort zone, the organization will fall due to chaotic disagreement about how to implement the goal. The engineers will complain about part failures. The accountants will demand lower costs. The marketers will want a flashier product. The sales people will want to go on more trips with the customers. All of these competing interests must be controlled properly. Many leaders are promoted out of marketing. Do not let that bias your management.
Good leaders are rare. We know this because most new companies fail in the first couple of years. Finding talented leadership is something that every organization needs. Try to become someone who values people and serves them, and you will be well on your way to being a leader.
Question: Can you add to the list of ways to show employees that you’re a leader?