When it comes to filling a leadership role, some of us are naturally born, while others struggle with simply making eye contact!
As a boss, you have to engage with your employees on a level that allows them to feel like they’re part of a team. When they see themselves as just a cog in a machine that works so you can take vacations, or afford that new SUV, they become unknowingly destructive.
My military leadership training often depicted the exact opposite of what was happening in the operational side of the house.
We were instructed to maintain an open relationship with our subordinates. Not an invasive desire to know everything about them, but a healthy understanding of what their life was like outside the walls of the Air Traffic Control Tower.
By being able to recognize slight changes in behavior, we were prepared when a passionate, motivated, or energetic co-worker would perform well below their normal standards. Our next step was not to intervene, but to ask subtle questions that would hopefully relieve some of the pressure of the situation, and allow them to open up to us as leaders.
Are you looking out for your employees on the same level you want your loved ones looking out for you?
Are you concerned when they don’t act themselves, or disrupt the normal workflow with abrasive comments, or negative attitudes?
Building trust as a leader is something that requires a lot of give and take.
Trust cannot be built without first acknowledging the fact that we are all human, and make mistakes.
As a boss, you’re far from perfect.
When you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, it’s often easiest to take out your anger on those that are paid to serve your ultimate goal towards success.
Stanley Foster Reed authored a book in ’93 titled TOXIC Executive A Step-by-Step Guide for Turning Your Boss (or Yourself) from Noxious to Nurturing.
In the book Stanley paints a disturbing picture, depicting just how strong of an impact a toxic leader can have on the work place.
I’m sure even you, the boss, worked for some really crappy leaders in the past.
What about their approach was difficult to handle?
Did you ever say “If I was the boss, I would do things differently!”?
Now that you own, manage, or chair a small business, have you become more like that toxic boss, or have you taken your own advice, and made necessary changes to move your vision towards success?
In a post I titled:
…And Then She Laughed So Hard She Peed Her Pants!
I talked briefly about the importance of introducing humor into the business environment.
As a practical joker myself, I would often diffuse stressful situations by using humor!
Laughter is a powerful tool. It can make you smile for days, giggle to yourself while recalling a past experience, or it can make you cry out of pure enjoyment!
As a boss, why would you stifle such a powerful emotion?
If you hire the right individuals, they will be smart enough to draw a line dividing appropriate, and just plain WRONG!
Give them the opportunity to explore their humor. You may have the next Jack Black on your team, and because of your rotten leadership abilities, you failed to notice their inner talents.
Business isn’t easy, but if you’re doing it right, the worst of times can quickly morph into the best of times!
The only way you will ever be successful, is by approaching every situation as a team. If you allow your employees to feel a sense of ownership, and you define a clear goal, they will fight next to you; shoulder to shoulder.
If you take on every hurdle as an individual, you are sure to fall flat on your face. Your employees will move on to the next toxic leader, and never speak of your qualities.
The qualities I know you have, but for some reason, might keep hidden from those that matter most.
There is a reason they call it TEAMWORK!
It’s up to everyone, from the lowest paid intern, to the highest paid executive, to spread the word about the business’s beliefs, values, and goals.
If those lowest on the ladder are treated like they are less important…
Do you really think they’ll have anything nice to say?
Who knows whose opinion they may influence. It could be your next big customer. The one that sends your company into hyper-drive!
I’ll close out this post with a simple quote from a gentlemen that most of you won’t recognize.
He has been a huge influence, and a model in which I adopted my leadership techniques.
His name is Herb Keller, the brains behind the success of Southwest Airlines. He understood what it really meant to be a leader!
When asked who came first, his employees, or the share holders, he smartly answered…
Well that’s easy, employees come first and if employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right, the outside world uses the company’s product again, and that makes the shareholders happy. That really is the way it works and it’s not a conundrum at all.”
That’s it for this post folks!
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photo credit: Darwin Bell via photo pin cc