There are seldom times that you can work for a true leader. Not only was I blessed with working for this man, but I was blessed for over ten years. I sit back and wonder why this leader was so effective and beloved by his workforce. The attributes of this man were outstanding and I have taken the time to reflect on what made him great and listed them below. He was a driver and drove his workforce to levels that the company had never seen and will probably never witness again. He was a compassionate leader who understood what it was like work his way up in a company. He did not forget his roots and his team had an allegiance to him that was unmatched. These are the attributes that made him so great of a leader.
1. Reward success. We are always under budget restraints but he taught me to take the time and money to reward a successful team. The text books will tell you that money is not the greatest motivator but there are times that you must make the financial life easier for your team because of the time away from there family that is required. It is not always money, if could be a dinner, an outing, a picnic, or just a simple reward of no intrinsic value. But you must reward success to be effective.
2. Lead by example. Whether it is ethics or principles, one must always take the high road. As a leader your team will follow your example. A great team always sustains by superior values and ethics
3. Recognize performance. A verbal recognition of a team goes a long way. A “Thank you”, “Good Job”, “Great Effort” means so much to people. Seldom do we work to merely get a check. People go the extra mile because they want to be successful and please others.
4. Mentor people. We all believe that we are good workers but we all know, or should, that we have deficits. We have strengths but there is always room to improve. A great leader takes the time to mentor people to a more successful career. They do not mentor when it is time to reprimand poor performance but they take the time to explain why we haven’t risen to the next level.
5. Drive performance with measurable metrics. People need to know what success looks like. They want to succeed but many times a leader does not spell out what success is. Give our team objectives that they can drive forward towards and be successful. Discreet, measurable, and attainable goals are necessary for a team
6. Be a good human being. Many times there are people that are successful because they drive a team. But will the team work so hard so their leader is proud? Not always. The leaders that have a team that will put their heads down and work themselves to new levels and repeatable sustain are the ones that are led by a good person who cares about each and every one of them. The team will recognize that and will follow that leader through every challenge to assure his/her success.
7. Be honest. You must tell the truth because you need your team to believe in you. You may not be able to say everything to the team at all times and a simple “I can’t discuss that right now” earns more respect than a deceitful answer. Tell the team of the challenges that it has to face and the repercussions of failure. Don’t dodge the hard conversations. We all fall short of expectations in time and a leader understands. A great leader can discuss the shortcomings and will coach the team in how to be successful next time.
There are successful bad leaders who the team has no real respect towards. They cannot sustain and at the end of the day the teams dismisses their leadership skills and seek out new opportunities that are led by a true champion.