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Member since 04/23/2007
The Qualities of A Successful Leader
04/23/2007 / 1:26 pm #1
What is a leader? But one who knows how to follow the leadings of those he or she serves. Who is a wise person? But one who is aware of how little they know and how valuable the knowledge and experiences of others is when considering decisions.
Henry Ford was by far one of the most successful businessmen of his era. Testament to the fact is that his legacy lives on through the automobile company that still bears his name. And yet, by his own admission, Henry was not the smartest man among his contemporaries. Knowing this about himself did not deter him from reaching out for success and becoming a great leader within his industry. He solved the challenge of his own limitations by surrounding himself with the most intelligent people he could find. That is one of the qualities of a successful manager or leader; the ability to recognize the experience and abilities of others and be humble enough to admit that one does not know everything.
This is an especially challenging mindset for those who hold "papers" like degrees or diplomas from institutions who have convinced the recipients that they know how to think, and reason, and make decisions within their field. A degree is nice, however it still does not mean that a person knows everything, nor that the person can connect with those they are managing. All a person knows is what they know. We are each the repository of an immense amount of knowledge and experiences that have been run through the filters of our own perspective. It would be foolish to believe that a person who does not have a degree isn't as intelligent or as capable as a person who does. Two words...Bill Gates.
So, humility, is one of the greatest qualities that a successful manager can possess. Think of the people who impress you and are really good with people and you will find that one of the qualities that makes them able to connect with others is humility. Humility is not a weakness it is a strength that can literally move mountains. Study Gandhi and you'll see what I mean.
Quality: Concern For Those Who Serve Under You
In 338 BC Megas Alexandros assisted his father at the decisive Battle of Chaeronea. Alexandros defeated the Sacred Band of Thebes, an corp or elite warriors who were thought to be invincible. After the battle, Phillip, Alexandros' father, led a victory celebration, from which his son was notably absent (it is believed that Alexandros was treating his wounded men and burying the dead, both of his own troops and of the enemy). This young man became the conquerer of the then known world. He turned his father's kingdom into the Grecian World Power. We know him as Alexander The Great.
Alexander was known for treating his wounded soldiers after a battle. He also took care of their families when they fell in battle. He ate with them and drank with them. When they rested, he played with them. When Alexander was lying on his deathbed every one of his soldiers filed past him in a final salute to the greatest leader the Greek Empire had ever known. Alexander was only 33 years old when he died.
Rubbing shoulders with and being involved in the lives of those who you manage is a key component of being a successful manager. They say that those who play together stay together. Showing concern for your team when they are down or making an effort to help them when they are in need is what builds trust in you ability to lead them and loyalty from those you manage. Do little things for your team like buying them a couple of pizzas or a six foot sandwich on a Friday, just for the heck of it, not only when they perform well. And here is the key, eat WITH them. People are most relaxed and open to suggestions when they are eating together. It creates an almost family environment.
Organize team building events that help get everyone connected and brings out their talents and creativity. The most important thing is that YOU as the manager or leader of the group participate with your team. The object is to get to know your team through play. I've been a trainer for years now and have used many kinds of props and games. You don't have to be a corporate trainer or spend a lot of money to do these kind of events with your team, however you do need company buy in from the high level executives. Toobeez are a great way to enhance your team building programs. They've just release a great new book that speaks to middle management personnel and is designed to get teams working together and bring out their creativity, leadership abilities and cooperation. The book is called “Training With A Twist” and trust me, it will be a great investment into bridging he gap between management and their personnel.
Qualities: Communication and Contribution
Peter Drucker said: He who focuses on methods and on exercising downward authority is a subordinate. He who focuses on contribution and on taking responsibility for results is in the strictest sense of the term “top management.”
Leadership is essentially the ability to influence and contribute to others. That ability comes from communicating in such a way that people can see how valuable they are and put themselves on a path to realize their potential. When the core emotional needs of individuals aren't being met, employees can’t offer their best effort. A good manager must be able to see in others what they don't see in themselves and then bring them to a place where they can begin to develop those abilities. As a leader you must contribute to the development of your team members. The only way to do that is through clearly understanding what their needs and wants are. How do you find that out? By communicating with them and working with them to help them accomplish their goals.
Involve your team members in your decision making process, especially in those decisions that will impact them directly. Ask for their opinions. Always have more than one choice for them to select from. This way they will feel engaged and part of the process. This is one of the greatest ways to motivate employees. If they feel a connection to you as their manager they will typically feel the need to do a good job for you so that you will do well. Contributing to their success will motivate them to excel in their work and contribute to your success.
Be gentle. Be kind. Temper criticism with praise. Show EVERYONE respect. Allow them their dignity. Celebrate their victories WITH them. Grieve their losses WITH them. Never blame. It's all about synergy and win/win mentality. If they win, you win, but they must always win first. Your win will follow as a direct result of your contributions and communication with those under your leadership.
Member since 06/16/2011
Re: The Qualities of A Successful Leader
07/11/2011 / 6:10 am #2
I would ike to make mine the words of Simon Brown* and say that a good leader should be abe to delegate, empower, coach and support their team to play to their strengths versus playing the traditional role of micro management and control...
*Simon Brown is a Leading Shared Services Management Consultant and wrote this article about effective leadership for this SSON.