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Five Telltale Signs of a Great Leader

Posted by | January 26, 2015 | Leadership, Workplace

Via LinkedIn : They say that great leaders are born and it is a quality that cannot be taught. Even at an early age, some children have a unique ability to command attention and lead while others exhibit follower, introvert or supporter qualities. Often times, the leaders, at an early age, become the managers and leaders in organizations later in life.

It would be preposterous, however, to say that all the five year-olds who demonstrated leadership qualities in your kindergarten class now have a corner office and play golf every Tuesday. Truth is that not all people who have leadership qualities make it into a leadership role in their career – and we can all name managers in the corner office that certainly do not belong there. Organizational psychologists say that employees do not quit a company; they quit a manager because they simply do not see a favorable outcome in working for that manager. Looking across different industries, there are several qualities that make managers great and thus are a true asset to the organization.

Lead by Example – Managers may conduct themselves with a “do as I say and not as I do” attitude. This includes showing up to meetings late, being ill prepared for meetings, being disrespectful to underlings or demanding that others complete reports or slides for a presentation that he/she will be presenting. Your employees look to you for leadership. When a manager behaves in a matter that is anything other than a leader, respect can be easily lost with little chance of restoring it.

Set Expectations – Too many times employees are not clear on what is expected of them. The last time some employees may have seen their job description was when they applied for the job. Most employees get an orientation, but it never really speaks to expectations to their specific role. Managers need regularly meet with their employees and set what expectations and goals are for each employee. Regular and frank feedback, both good and bad is needed so employees understand what they are measured against as well as how to adjust their skill set and ability to execute based on the current state and current needs.

Be Genuine – One of the biggest complaints of employees is that their manager is too busy “managing up” or playing the game rather than managing their business. It is as important for a manager to be real with his/her employees as it is to be a leader. One recent horror story I heard was of an employee who asked for and received permission to work remote several days a week since she had just adopted a child. Within the course of one business quarter, the manager reversed her decision putting the employee in a horrible position of choosing between her job and her child. At the same time, this very manager worked remote every Friday. Employees are real people and they have lives outside of work that can impact work. Sickness, divorce, family issues and loss of a loved one are all real life events. A good manager recognizes this and works with the employee to find the best solution that can help mitigate the issue and where both work and personal needs can co-exist. Working with the employee will create less impact at work while also rewarding you with an infinitely more loyal employee than before this life event.

Support Your Staff – Investing in your staff is more than simply sending them to a development class. One of the questions I routinely get is what I look for when hiring an employee. I always look for someone who knows something more in an area than I do. Creating an arsenal of relevant team talent not only strengthens your group but it also motivates your direct reports because of their subject matter expertise. When a direction is taken that is agreed upon by your team, it is essential that you, as the manager, back-up your employees. The worst outcome is when an employee has reason to believe that his/her manager has their back only to learn that the leader has waffled in order to be a player in the political corporate game.

Remember Your Roots – Not long ago, I met Robert Herjavec – a multi-millionaire featured on the well-known TV show Shark Tank. At the event, Robert was undoubtedly the most successful and wealthy person in the room. It stood out (to me) to see vice presidents from various companies carry themselves with all the bluster and swagger that they could muster while Mr. Herjavec carried himself as an average “business-man”. He never forgot his roots or where his family came from. We all can recall our first day on the job, our first junior position and reporting to managers both good and bad. As a manager, remembering your roots and treating your directs in the way you would want to be treated yields better results than intimidating, alienating and de-motivating employees that mostly want to do the right thing for themselves and for the company.

Your employer saw something in you and you in them – which is why you are now working for them. If you manage staff, you have the added responsibility of training, motivating and managing your staff to produce stellar results. While you rely on your “directs” to get the job done, they rely on you to lead. Are you doing the right things to promote success of your staff, your company, and, in turn, you?

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