Thursday, October 4, 2012

Three Basic Leadership Principles

There’s a quote about leadership from John Maxwell that I absolutely love.  “People quit people.  Not companies.”

I had to think about that for a bit.  As I reflected on my own past career choices I realized the truth in this statement. 

Some positions I’ve left related to financial decisions.  The others were a result of poor leadership (that directly affected me) within the organization.

I’ve recently moved into a leadership role in the business world and find myself on the other side of the leadership desk. 

In the six short weeks I’ve been in this role I’ve been reminded of three very important leadership lessons worth sharing.

1.       Everyone needs positive reinforcement, appreciation, and encouragement.

Various factors motivate people to get out of bed in the morning and go to work.  But, I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t appreciate acknowledgement for a job well done.  You create a positive working environment simply by acknowledging and supporting the work an employee does.

This lesson isn’t news to me and it probably isn’t to you either.  Here’s the problem…it’s very easy to get side-tracked and forget to show appreciation for the people in our lives.  It takes a conscious effort to offer ongoing encouragement.

2.       Don’t jump to conclusions.  Get all the facts before you make a decision.

This is good advice in business, family, church, and everyday life.  The only way to make a wise, informed decision is to get all your facts straight. 

If you jump to conclusions you may find yourself tangled in knots of misinformation.  Misunderstandings ensue and business or personal relationships may be irreparably damaged.

3.       Always follow through on what you promise.  This is my personal pet peeve.  So many people say things they have no intention of doing.

 If you don’t mean it, don’t say it.  It’s that simple.  There’s no faster way to lose credibility than failing to follow through on a promise.

Things to think about…

What are the leadership principles you follow?  Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.


Diane Henders said...

Here's one I consider really important: If I'm going to hold someone responsible for an outcome, I have to give them the power to affect that outcome.

If I assign a task to someone, I have to make sure it's within their capability, and then stay out of the way and trust them to fulfill its requirements their own way (which may not be the way I'd do it myself - and that's not necessarily a bad thing).

As a leader, I need to supply information, materials, or whatever other support my employee needs to do their job, but it's also vital to provide support after the task is complete, even if (and especially if) it didn't go well.

If it went well, it's important to acknowledge a job well done. If it didn't go well, it's my job as a leader to share responsibility for the failure, making reparations without blaming my employee.

If an employee knows they'll be publicly blamed for a failure, they'll avoid taking responsibility. But if they know they can count on me to back them up in front of a customer and to work with them afterward to figure out what went wrong, they'll feel safe enough to try again... and they'll do a better job next time.

This process might set me up for an occasional failure, but the end result is a reliable, confident employee who's not afraid to step up to the plate when something needs to be done.

And it beats the heck out of trying to micromanage a flock of sheep who constantly seek approval because they're too afraid to make a decision. Employees should lessen my workload, not increase it.

Carol Henders said...

Great point, Diane. Some of us "controlling types" need to remember to empower the employee and stand back and let them do the job they were hired to do, instead of constantly grabbing it back and frustrating everyone.

Thanks for the reminder!