Real Talk on Superior Leadership
Do you manage or lead? Most company managers would define themselves as a leader. But take a good long look at yourself in the mirror. How would your team answer that question? If you asked your team to take the hill, would they because it is the right thing to do or because you are the boss and they want to keep their job? True leadership comes from leading by example. It seems that everyone knows this intuitively. But how many people actually put it into action? About a million books have been written on leadership to date. It’s one thing to absorb management theory, but putting it into practice is another thing all together. Here’s what I’ve learned during my 20+ years in a leadership role at companies of all sizes:
The Importance of Employee Motivation
One of the most challenging things is keeping your staff motivated. Again this sounds good, but all too often as a business owner you get wrapped up in bringing on new business, tending to business issues and resolving problems. In too many cases, we forget to recognize our team’s accomplishments. While as managers we see everything that our team falls short on and we are trained to address these issues, these issues become the focus and we create a negative environment. That being said, you don’t want to swing too far in the other direction. We live in society where everyone who plays needs a trophy. This is unfortunate as we need to embrace our failures, and learn from them. Some of our most valuable lessons are learned from the school of hard knocks.
Give Your Employees Face Time
As we are all faced with time challenges one of the greatest leadership failures is not taking the time to spend with our employees sharing our experiences. In most cases, the management has substantially more life experience, as well as knowledge within a given sales vertical. While you can expect your staff to learn some of this on their own and through their own research, they need real world experiences that they can relate to. Regardless of what vertical you are selling into, there are unique quirks about every industry. There is a different vocabulary, a different expectation level, and different knowledge base. Sharing your experiences not only educates your employees, but also creates team-building for them to know you as an individual.
The importance of face time and mentorship cannot be overstressed. Just like customers buy from people, employees work for people. They want to know about you and they want to understand why you have been successful. In many cases they are looking for guidance in their own career. While this may seem counterintuitive, you need to put your employees’ needs above your own. In many cases, entry-level employees are working for you and gaining valuable insights to the world while determining if this is something that interests them enough to do this for a career. Some want to try out other careers or even other companies. It is important that you be respectful of their decisions, and that they’re respectful of you and your company. There are a lot of poorly managed companies out there, and it is important that you teach them the way that they should be treated and how they should treat their employees. Create an environment of respect from the onboarding process all the way through the resignation process.
It is not uncommon in today’s world to have young employees who have never resigned a position before. They may be nervous about transition, and don’t necessarily see the value of giving notice. Education will help them with this process. You are essentially becoming a mentor to them. This, like everything else, needs to be balanced. You are still their manager and while you can be a mentor, you are not there to be their friend. Much like your children, where you are a parent first, here you are a manager first and foremost. If they are underperforming you need to be forthright, honest and respectful. You need to be willing to give them all the assistance and training that you can to get them to the level that they need to perform. However, if they cannot meet or exceed your expectations, it is best for both sides to pursue other avenues. While it may not be the most fun part of managing, it is a necessary part. And both sides usually come out stronger.
Affirm Your Staffs’ Accomplishments
Lastly, the easiest and most overlooked part of motivating your staff is to give them accolades. Your staff works diligently and strive to do as directed. When they are successful, the accolades need to be appropriate, and not over the top. Your employees can sense when you are not sincere. Finally, make it about them, while they care about you, it makes them demoralized when you make it about yourself or your company instead of them.
What lessons have you learned about leadership and motivation?
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