Observations on Leaders
The past few months have put me in some new positions to observe different leaders in different situations. Some of these leaders, are supervisors or managers, but all are put in positions of leadership, regardless of if they uphold the ideal traits of a Leader. We all have our ideal Leaders, people we think are great at not only managing people, but leading people professionally and personally. They are the people we want managing us. Forbes has a list of the 100 Best Quotes on Leadership Here are some of my thoughts on what makes a “good” leader and some downfalls that can happen to “bad” leaders.
A good leader is not only confident in themselves but also in the people he or she leads. It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok to fail, and it’s ok to succeed, but a leader needs to be confident that the outcome will be ok, regardless of the process. Fake it til you make it.
If the leader doesn’t believe in his or her people, decisions, and company how can anyone else?
A good leader is prepared for the inevitable, it could be the end of the world, or a surprise fire, or a weather emergency. An actual plan might not be in place, but there is an idea of what could take place if any of several events happen. Preparation is also about preparing those who follow the leader; if the leader isn’t there and the building loses power, what happens first? Who is responsible for the equipment, people, HVAC, or planning the rest of the day?
Why should anyone else be prepared, or how does anyone else become prepared, if the leader does not prepare?
Yes, anyone can decide what color shirt to wear today, and I don’t know if good leaders make good clothing choices, but there is still a decision to be made. Who comes to a meeting? Who is in charge of the meeting? Do you ask people to attend a meeting, or do you tell people to attend? Do you plan the meeting or does the meeting plan itself? Even if the decision is to delegate that decision, make it a confident decision and a confident delegation. Make sure the person making the decision is comfortable with it and understand what the decision means. Deciding whether the party theme is red or black is meaningless, unless there is applied meaning.
If a leader can’t make basic decisions, the followers make those decisions and lose confidence in the leader.
Show More than Tell
Don’t tell me I’m doing a good job, I know I’m going a good job, show me I’m doing a good job by allowing me to grow. A good leader should know where his or her people want to go. They might be supervising an entry-level position, but know that that person wants to become something else. Once the person in the entry-level position has mastered the skills necessary for the job, he or she should be continually challenged to meet new goals and standards.
Without challenge, no one can grow, and even though a person might be in an entry-level position, they can and will leave if there is no room to grow within the position, even if they aren’t ready for the next rung on the ladder. They will find somewhere else to plant roots and grow, somewhere that will invest in them and groom them to be great.
One of my favorite ideas right now, is that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers or bosses. A person could love or hate their job, but if their manager/supervisor is terrible, that person will eventually leave. And that costs the company money any way you look at it.