As business owners we have a vested interest in the efforts our employees undertake on behalf of the business. And of course, their interest in the business is not necessarily the same as ours. While we want the business to succeed and make a profit, their interests might be a lot more closely aligned to their own interests, perhaps just taking home a wage at the end of each week.
So unless we lead them in the direction we want them to go, they could easily fulfil the terms of their employment contract (they do have an employment contract, don’t they? If not, speak to Nigel) without actually advancing the cause of the business.
So we are all leaders whether we like it or not.
But here’s a question: Are leaders born or made? Is leadership a function of nature, or nurture?
And of course, the answer is “Both”
Leadership is a skill which affects every part of our lives where you need to influence the behaviours of others. Whether in your role as business owner, leader in church or as a parent, the way that you lead others will define the success of those being led.
There are many approaches to how to become a better leader; books to be read, seminars to attend, but at the end of the day, how well you lead comes down to your own behaviour, and how you relate to others. So if it doesn’t come naturally, you need to look at yourself first.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve? The vision is the thing which inspires you to get up in the morning. The vision needs to be big enough to excite and inspire, but not so big that it appears impossible to achieve
- Have you written down the goals needed in order to gain the vision? A grand vision on its own is not enough; the goals will provide the roadmap to the achievement of the vision, and demonstrate that it is actually viable. Further, a goal which has been written down has some substance, and has been thought through. So you're much more likely to be achieve it than if you just keep it in your head. It also means it's easier to articulate the goals to those whom you need to take along with you.
- Do you know what actions need to be taken in order to achieve the goals? If you can list the physical actions to be undertaken you can determine what is needed to make them happen and you can work out what resources (people, money, time) you need. And then you can delegate those actions and identify ways to ensure that they are completed. The completion of the tasks make the goal get that little bit closer, and can inspire you to continue. Every journey starts with a single step…..
- Do you embrace change? Leaders look for ways to change what happens in order to achieve the goals they have set. They challenge the nay-sayer who says “We’ve never done it that way before”. If you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always got……
- Do you communicate with others? If you spend time talking to those working with you so that they understand and embrace why you’re doing what you’re doing they are more likely to be on board with your plans.
- Are you displaying a positive attitude? People will follow a leader who is passionate and positive about what they are trying to achieve. Good leaders maintain a positive attitude and find solutions to challenges, rather than let issues get them down. Always look for the positive.
- Do you look to develop the people working with you? If you grow the talents of the people working with you they will be a further asset to you and your business, and reward your faith in them by taking initiatives to further your goals and vision.
- Do you look to learn from every mistake? We all make mistakes; it’s inevitable. But the true leader aims to learn from those mistakes, by identifying the root cause and determining what can be done to fix it and how to stop it happening again. And of course, if a follower makes a mistake, the true leader avoids the blame culture and shares the responsibility for finding the solution.
- Do you reward excellent performance? When one of your staff does really well, make sure that it is recognised and rewarded; assuming your staff aren’t on the bread line they will value recognition above many other things; unrewarded performance will encourage people to look elsewhere where their efforts are more appreciated.
So, the good news is that you can learn to be a better leader. And it starts by looking at yourself.