I have had the privilege of leading teams for over 20 years. I have learned many lessons along the way. I would like to share five of these lessons.
Leaders must recognize the power they have over their employees’ personal and professional lives. I am not talking about authority or position. I am referring to the impact a leader can have on the people. I often ask leaders if they are a “dog-kicking boss.” In other words after an employee works with you, does he go home feeling inspired and motivated or does he go home and feel like kicking the dog.
Many leaders believe that the business comes before the people. Wrong! The people are the business! Richard Branson said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
Leaders must build trust. Trust is the foundation of leadership. This starts with being trustworthy. Do not do anything to undermine your people. Don’t take credit for their ideas. If people do not trust you and are suspicious of your motives, they will never respond to or follow you. Coach them, provide feedback, hold them accountable and support them. Creating a culture of trust engenders engagement and retention.
Leadership is about performance. Companies focus on core competencies and leadership attributes to improve personal and team performance. If a leader is highly competent, has high emotional intelligence and possesses leadership attributes, she will consistently perform at a high level.
Finally leaders must not focus on winning or being number one. Leaders must focus their team on the process of winning. During my career I have seen leaders, including myself, tell their team that the goal is to finish at the top and exceed expectations. The problem is that some people do not know how to do it. You must coach them on the things that they must do to exceed expectations.