During times of crisis, …and for many of us in day-to-day life, we try to pick out individuals we see as leaders. We do this for many reasons. Strong leaders can help motivate and push us forward during challenging times. Leaders can be described as – good listeners, motivators, creatives, hard workers, and charismatic.. just to name a few. Unfortunately, there are so many open interpretations of leadership that it’s hard to know exactly what to look for. Sometimes, it’s even hard to describe the ‘it‘ factor that makes a leader stand out.
Between owners, managers, administrators, directors and so on – there is no shortage of titles, but what makes a ‘true’ leader? The leadership tips in this blog might help you identify the ‘true’ leaders in your workspace. At the very least, maybe these tips will just inspire you to be the best leader you can be. Remember, simply owning a business or being a manager doesn’t qualify you for leadership. It’s an uphill battle, but one you can win.
It’s best to start the conversation with a basic definition. Remember, just because this is what ‘the dictionary tells us, doesn’t mean it’s 100% all-inclusive of a leader. It’s simply a good place to start the thought process.
The term leader is defined as;
“an individual who possesses the ability to influence and inspire others, towards the accomplishment of goals. They are someone who holds a dominant position and leads others by example. They are a person with a vision, who stays committed to their goal and strives continuously towards achieving it.”
In contrast, for example, the definition of a ‘boss’ is;
“an individual who is in charge of the employee or an organization. They are someone to whom the workers report, i.e. immediate supervisor of the workforce.
There is a huge ideological gap between these two definitions. Because of this, it’s important to realize that many managers are not leaders, and many leaders are not managers. The easiest way to think of this is – a boss has employees and a leader has followers.
Do you want your company’s employees to follow you into battle, or just do what you say because they have to? Be careful about which you choose. If you’re a leader, that means you have to be the one in the battle, not just leading your crew into it.
Because we all have different ways of thinking, it can be difficult to know exactly what it takes to be a leader. In general, personality and social studies show that leaders exhibit the following traits:
- Foresightedness – looking at greater goals and practicing forward thinking
- Communication Skills – clear speaking patterns that are broadly understood
- Stimulates work – doesn’t wait on work to happen, but actively produces
- Appreciate others
- Sets examples – comes in early, stays late, works with others well to complete tasks
- Takes responsibilities – not my job isn’t a leaders vocabulary
- Actively listens
Some of these are obvious, but it’s important to actively look for these traits in all of the people around us! Just knowing someone can be a leader doesn’t mean you’re doing a good job at picking them out, utilizing their motivations and skills to help your business grow. We’re not talking about taking advantage of motivated people but encouraging them to go further. Without some type of leadership in every level of your business, it will be more difficult to succeed.
The first step is to identify ALL of the potential leaders in your organization. However, it’s not enough to know. You have to act!
1. The easiest place to begin is the famous expression “Lead By Example“. Let’s really break this down. Once again we go to one of our favorite informational sources, Entrepreneur.com. They say,
Leaders need to show, not just tell. If you want your employees to be punctual, make sure you’re there on time — or even early. If professionalism is a priority, make sure you’re dressed for success, and treat everyone you interact with (both in-person and online) with courtesy. Set the tone and your employees will follow it.
2. One of the hardest things a leader has to do is show real humility. We’re not saying to bend over for any idea or opinion that comes your way. Your business would probably fall apart. Just don’t be a know it all. A leader shares the spotlight and is comfortable crediting others. For example, your portable toilet assembly crew may put together every single unit that ships from your location. Without them, your salespeople would be useless, management would have nothing to manage, accountants would have nothing to count, and you’d wind up with no customers. Just because there are different levels of employment doesn’t mean you’re the only person who matters. One of our best friends, an ex-Delta Airline executive said it best, ‘always catch people doing something right. It’s not the ‘you’ show, and that’s important to remember.
3. Try to improve yourself. When was the last time you tried to learn a new skill, read a new book, or learned some new vocabulary words? Do you want smart employees? Most likely… so be smarter. Show them that learning never stops and encourage your group to learn everything they can about our industry.
4. Emotions are your friend, not your enemy. It’s unfortunate that in many industries we’re completely discouraged from being emotionally aware in the workplace. To be a leader, you have to form relationships. You can’t be in a personal relationship with an emotional robot. When using your head to do what’s best for your company, don’t forget to have a heart.
There’s So Much More
These are just a few ideas you can use in your own leadership identification arsenal. There are literally millions upon millions of tips, blogs, websites and books built around the subject of leadership. This goes to show that leadership is vitally important, not just in our personal lives and work, but in society at large. The best thing about self-improvement, humility and servant leadership is that not only will it improve your immediate environment, but it can also help change your community and workplace.
Reward good behavior and make sure to share your success with your employees. Empower the individuals you see as leaders. In a world filled with participation trophy mentalities and ‘built-in’ expectations of the outcome, finding your company’s leaders is more important than ever. Good leaders can change attitudes for the better.
Good attitudes will make your business grow.