In the workplace, leaders who “lead by example” and inspire others to do the same are critical to an organization’s success. As a leader yourself, how do you feel you are doing? Do you know if you are an effective leader?
Leaders are arguably the most critical asset in any organization and are counted on as pillars to hold up and support the rest of the workforce. As such, their role is the most scrutinized and their success is most directly correlated to organizational success.
As a leader, you are expected to be a problem solver. But do you need to have all the answers? No, you don’t. In fact, you are not only allowed to but are obligated to tap any and all resources at your disposal to come up with the best solutions. Your organization likely has a number of specialists and tools you can leverage to reach well-informed conclusions. Effective leaders are skilled delegators, and are not required to be the sole keepers of the organization’s “wisdom.”
When thinking about great leaders, we often think of the characteristics they have that most people lack. That’s not how the legendary business leader W. Edwards Deming saw things. He believed that leadership isn’t about the individual at all. In fact, he saw leaders more as facilitators and the people being led as the true drivers of success.
Business author Jim Collins, in his book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, found that building an enduring company wasn’t about having a visionary figurehead, but rather having a system that could thrive long after the boss left or retired. One way a leader can accomplish this is by engaging a motivated and purposeful workforce inside the framework of a positive and value-based culture—through transparency.
Some see power and influence as consequences of leadership while others see them as precursors. Traditionally, attributes like strength and confidence were what defined leaders. But as a more intricate and complicated societal structure has emerged, we have found that a more nuanced approach can be just as effective, and can include traits like compassion, transparency, and open-mindedness. In today's business environment, transparency is becoming increasingly important for managers and leaders. A workplace that is transparent from top to bottom can easily communicate problems, delegate responsibility, and mobilize resources to reach a resolution. Managers who can facilitate this type of unified response and not carry the burdens alone experience a higher level of success in their role.
This important attribute goes both ways. Most people assume that employees couldn’t care less about aspects of their employer’s business operations that don’t directly affect them. In fact, the opposite is true. When you share information with them, including profits, losses and other financials, they appreciate your trust and become more personally involved in outcomes, because we tend to care about and fight for things we are responsible for and connected to.
It’s easy for an “us vs. them” mentality to permeate a company when managers pretend that they have all the answers. This resentment can only be reversed by having managers take off the mask and be authentic, building trust, and ultimately promoting employee buy-in.
Your team is an asset, and like any asset, you want to see its value grow. Ego is one of the greatest motivators. Building someone’s confidence can have a powerful and positive impact on their work as an employee. Your job as a leader and manager is to help your team members strive to be their best and reach their maximum potential.
Knowledge is power, so continually educating your employees empowers them to make bigger contributions to the company’s success. Plus, since you are ultimately responsible for their output, when they succeed, so do you.
Education also lifts the veil of secrecy between management and employees that causes mistrust, miscommunication, and misguided efforts. The key is to include financial literacy training alongside an open-book management business operating system to maximize employee engagement and motivation.
No one is “born to lead.” Great leaders can come from any background and can choose to pursue a leadership role at any age. Whatever path a person takes to becoming a leader, the key to success is having a purpose and a desire to serve something bigger than oneself. Great leaders put the needs of their company ahead of their own and discover that is the best way to ensure both are met.
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