Leadership is an elusive quality and few people ever really get it, but as the figurehead of a company you are supposed to know what it means to be a leader and a motivator even if it wasn’t taught to you. In my industry I see a lot of individuals who were really good at their chosen profession and that skill got them thrust into the management arena. Leadership is an elusive quality but interestingly enough the people who want it usually aren’t leaders. I think sticking to these points will help you encourage your inner leader and learn how to actually lead your staff.
Lead by Example
This should go without saying but many of us in leadership positions leave the less desirable tasks to our subordinates. This gets us into trouble because our subordinates generally equate their worth to their assigned tasks. As a leader you should always be willing to do what you have asked and I make sure that if I want something done I learn how to do it as well, which brings me to my second point..
Learn from Your Staff
Many times your staff is extremely accomplished in areas outside of their professional life, so tap into that expertise. Thinking outside the box is a vital skill and the sometimes the solution to your most challenging business situation. The person that answers your phone and creates emergency plans for FEMA in her spare time could be your miracle worker.
Understand Staff Limitations
The flip side to learning about your staff is to then understand how those skills apply to your business. The biggest mistake I see in management is the underutilization of staff. If you have a staff member in a customer service position who is incredibly efficient and organized but not a people person, you are not effectively managing their capabilities. This person should be in the operations leg of your organization where organization and efficiency are responded to. If you have a chatty person in an office role, they may be better utilized in your sales or PR staff.
This is a big one and one that most managers do not agree with, but an apology is an effective management tool. We are only human and even the best of us make mistakes, acknowledging mistakes helps your staff recognize that you value their help and recommendations; valuing their recommendations is an important part of building an empowered workforce and one of the most important parts of building an innovative and capable workforce.
Leadership is a fluid area of management and there are as many leadership styles as leadership mistakes. How you lead is an extremely personal choice and hopefully this list will help you create a strategic leadership path.