Guest Blogger, Jenn Livingston – I’m a business consultant and writer who specializes in business technology, customer relationship management, and lead management.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather team them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
The journey from manager to leader is tangible. There are so many examples of leaders who have shared their journey. A manager is someone who tries to control people, resources, supplies and customers to hit targets. A leader inspires others to control themselves and take care of resources, supplies, and customers in full motion toward the mission, goals and vision. There are certain personal characteristics that leaders seem to have in common:
- They are proactive instead of reactive-Good leaders always think ahead and works to prevent problems instead of react to them.
- They have good initiative and a strong drive. They immediately take care of problems. They are decisive and lead with passion.
- They have ability to inspire others with honesty, humor, and a positive attitude.
Not everyone can be a great leader, but everyone can aspire to lead.
In order to grow from manager to leader, there are important steps to take. When managers take these steps they walk toward the goal of being a leader.
Take Initiative and Make Decisions
To take initiative, a good leader is always looking at the big picture to see if there are problems or barriers that are keeping the company from attaining its goals. From this, develop strategic initiatives that work today and down the road. If there is a problem, a leader makes sure the problem gets solved.
Decisions need to be made judiciously and quickly. Avoiding making decisions really diminishes the appearance of leadership. It is important first to carefully survey the facts and information around a decision. Then comes the analysis of the problem through a cost-benefit analysis or other problem solving technique. Finally, a decision is made by choosing the best option with the least risk and the most benefit. It is important that decisions are communicated to everyone with a need to know, quickly and completely.
Communicate both Receptively and Expressively
A great leader is a great listener. A good leader is often the last to speak in a meeting, taking care to hear and understand the points that others are making. It helps significantly in decision making when a leader understands what the employees are thinking and feeling. Good leaders know how to use this information to formulate strategic goals and initiatives. Often sales men who have had corporate sales training excel in this area and make good leaders.
One of the biggest employee complaints in surveys is lack of communication. When employees don’t have good communication, they believe that managers aren’t good leaders. When leaders don’t learn employee respect they can’t lead. There are many ways to communicate in an organization. Good leaders strategically organize communications with meetings, emails, reporting, newsletters, etc. to assure that everyone understands the goals and initiatives.
The most important thing that a leader can do is walk the way they talk. Don’t over promise and under deliver. It destroys morale. If you say you will do something always make sure that you do it. Failure to be accountable is failure to lead.
Lead by example. Leaders show that they are not above doing anything an employee will do. They come to work early and leave late. They communicate their whereabouts and work hard. They are the example of what they want their employees to be.
Leaders can admit when they make a mistake. A smart leader will admit they make a mistake in front of employees fairly often to create an open environment where employees feel free to make mistakes and then learn from them.
Do more interesting work, grow employees and improve productivity by starting down the path of leadership. “Given the right circumstances,” says Hock, “from no more than dreams, determination, and the liberty to try, quite ordinary people consistently do extraordinary things.”