Are You A Great Leader?

 

I have been playing around with this topic for awhile now, trying to conjugate the right words.  It’s a difficult article to write because choosing the words carefully to get my point across is a difficult in itself, particularly on this subject.  Over the years, I have worked for some really great leaders and I have also worked with some that are not so great. The not so great one’s I questioned how they got to their role and usually it was due to who they know not what they know.

Being a leader in any organization requires skill, expertise, knowledge and above all else a deep seeded relationship with your people.  How a leader becomes successful in his or her role is a testament to the relationship one has with the people that work with them (notice I don’t say works under them). A truly successful leader is one that remembers where they came from before they became a Manager, Executive, President or even CEO.  These leaders understand the value of the people that are making them shine and they don’t hesitate to give them credit.  They don’t sit back and let their people flounder in uncertainty and they are still very much a part of their team because they are still down in the trenches working along side of them daily.  They don’t allow themselves to be removed from the reality of the job that has to be done by their people and they understand why something isn’t working.

These leaders listen to their people and are easily approachable.  No organization should have it to where their employees are not comfortable discussing their jobs and the real business that is going on in the field. If you don’t know what is going on as a leader then how can you even possibly help fix the problems?  But breaking that barrier between management and employee is a difficult task for any leader because there is a trust issue involved.   Employees are distrustful because they have been burned by other managers at one time or another and that burn follows them on every different job they take. That leader left a mark on them that is hard to wipe away.  

So how does a leader break the barrier and gain trust?  Well, depending on your role within the company I would say you have to first actually pick up the phone and call the employee and talk to them.   Meet with them more than once a year if you are a president or executive. As an executive if you think that meeting with your entire team once or twice a year is going to win trust then you are mistaken.  Holding that monthly conference call and spewing out directives and discussing what went right and wrong isn’t going to work and it makes for nothing more than just an hour of wasted time for your people unless you engage them in the conversation.  If you are a director of your area and you don’t even hold a weekly conference call to get to know your people and develop a relationship with them that invites open conversation then you are failing them and yourself.  You aren’t doing your job and it looks as if you don’t care about your people.  As the hierarchy goes, an area manager would report their teams issues and ask for guidance of their manager.  So even these managers feel that they can’t come to upper management with problems as it would look as if they can’t do there job.   This shouldn’t be the case in any situation.  There is a reason you put this particular person in that position and as a executive leader you need to listen and open your ears to the problems that your people are facing.  Berating your management team is not a way of getting you any closer to running a successful organization, but rolling up your sleeves and getting into the trenches to help  fix the problems is the key to success.  You begin to win trust with your people when you do this and when people trust you they will want to do well for you.  When employees feel that they can discuss anything with you whether it’s in confidence or not, you have won trust.

Being a micro-manager does nothing but cause problems.  This is one of my pet peeves.  I loathe a micro-manager type style.  I know several managers that think the only way to get results is to micro-manage every move their employees make.  If you have to resort to micro-managing you are failing. Plain and simple. YOU are failing, not your employees.  Yes, some employees need a structured way of doing things but putting it in a way that remotely resembles micro-management is disheartening to the employees.   It speaks volumes of what you think of them and frankly it makes you look like a jerk and no one wants to work for a jerk.  Granted, there are times that a manager has to fire people for not doing their jobs because they just can’t grasp it or they don’t want to do the job, but most of the time the employee is salvageable if you actually work with them and figure out ways to help them do their jobs better.  After you have exhausted every effort then cutting the cord may be the only course of action but it should be the LAST action.  It’s a matter of taking an employee from hating their job to loving their job and to do this, you as a manager need to figure out what the employee can and can’t do and that’s impossible if you aren’t present in their environment.

A managers role has many facets, you are there to deliver outstanding results to the company but you are not going to get those results unless you become the “counselor” of the people you work with.  You are their leader and you are the one that they look to for help and guidance.  They need to know that you care about their success.  Praise, praise and more praise, even if it’s just a small accomplishment that your employee has done makes for a positive and successful work environment.  Constructive criticism is then welcomed by your employees as long as you are willing to hear their ideas,  criticism given only without an open discussion between manager and employee doesn’t change anything and makes for a poor work environment.  

The majority of people leave companies because they don’t like their jobs or they see that they are being undervalued.  People walk away not because of money but because of their environment.  I know many people who have stayed working for a company making the same pay just because they love their jobs and they really like their company and management.   It’s that trusting relationship that keeps that employee with you and wanting to make you proud. It’s the relationship that makes for success and without it a manager won’t succeed for long.  Cultivating their skills, teaching them how to be successful and treating them as an equal is important when it comes to an employee-management relationship.   They ARE an equal to you, just because your title is different doesn’t make them any less than you as a human being and bottom line you should treat your employees how you want to be treated.

In the end, if you want to have a successful career in management and you want to be known as someone that employees want to work with then you have done your job right.   If you have managed to figure out what your employees are good at and how to enhance their abilities then you have become a great leader.  If you have opened that door wide to them to feel free to discuss any issue with you, then you are a great leader.  If your employees want to do well BECAUSE of you then you are a great leader.  If you have treated your employees with the same level of respect as you would like to have then you have become a great leader.  All of this means something, and that something is success for you and your people, because without happy employees there is not a level of success that you will ever be able to achieve.

Hopefully this gives you an insight on what employees are looking for when it comes to working within an organization.  Maybe, just maybe it will make you stop and think about how you are handling your employees and answer the questions as to why your team isn’t successful.  Maybe it’s time to change the way of thinking that the “old school” mentality should be made extinct.  Then you will achieve the level of greatness for you and your team that you are striving to achieve.   Change means growing and change is good.   Try to remember that the people that are working for you are a reflection of you and once you make them great employees you to will be great yourself.

Sir Richard Branson stated..”Train people so they can leave.  Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

 

Donna Weir

Copyrights reserved.  April 13, 2016

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