2007 Winter/Spring Volume 7 No. 1

How do you Develop Leadership?

Leadership is the single-most important factor in determining the current and future
success of your business, no matter how large or small it is today.

What exactly is leadership?
It is a combination of traits, some of which you are born with, others you learn from your parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors. It is part personality, part competence, part performance, and part moral character.

Here are four ideas that can increase the potential for leadership success in your company.

Develop a work environment that invites everyone to engage in building a better future.

First, you can’t do it through command and control. Unless you can be everywhere at once, the minute you turn your back, your followers start moving in their own directions. When leaders tune into their employees’ needs for growth, safety and trust—essentially demonstrating the company’s commitment to them, then employees begin to return the commitment. When employees feel confident that they can tell the truth without fear of embarrassment, retribution or blame, and when employees are trusted to do their jobs without interference, then they begin to take responsibility for the results and the first step toward personal leadership is taken.

Get to know yourself better and how your employees see you. Be aware of the power you hold in their lives and be careful how you use it.

The power you have by controlling the paycheck can be used to create fear and suspicion or trust and devotion. As an employer, you need to be aware of how you utilize this power. Fear makes an employee feel tentative and uncommitted—always on the lookout for a better position somewhere else. Devotion means they have committed themselves to your company heart and soul.

As an employer, you need to “feel their pain.” Your key employees must be convinced that you will do whatever you can to protect them during bad times.

While employees may trust you, they may have learned to distrust the marketplace. Most employees believe that a downturn in business means you’ll cut their job before you’ll cut your profits. Your company leaders need to understand that they are safe or they will be less committed during downturns rather than more committed when you need them most.

Employees want justice as much as you do.

They want equal pay for equal work and they want you to make the tough decisions that keep things fair—decisions like who gets promoted, who stays where they are, and who gets let go. Don’t expect morale to suffer just because you have to fire someone who for whatever reason can’t take responsibility.

To be successful, you need to be able to find leaders and develop them. Make your efforts an important part of your daily routine. Find out which employees go the extra mile. Find out why, and reward them with responsibility as well as monetary bonuses. Develop primary leaders and secondary leaders.

Without good leadership, your business will never grow beyond what you can personally control. You may be able to manage your way to a good business,
but you can only lead it to greatness.

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