Top 10 Tips to be a Great Leader
Frederic Voyer PMP, CPA, CCP
Behind every successful small business, there is a successful leader!
Unhappy employees and an increasing employee turnover rate can be a recipe for disaster, especially in a start-up.
A team's happiness, and ultimately their performance, is highly dependent on the relationship each team member has with their direct manager.
In the book “First Break All the Rules: What The Worlds’ Greatest Managers Do Differently”, written by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, the authors state that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.
Talent hiring VS talent retention
Yes, it is very important to always be on the lookout for potential talented hires. A wise coach of mine once told me to "Hire character, train skill". This has been a great rule of thumb when on the lookout for talented hires.
However, talent hiring is only one crucial part of ensuring the success of your business. Great management & leadership is often what keeps this talent around in the long run.
Want to ensure your team is happy and fullfilled to keep your top talent?
Then look at yourself in the mirror and consider how many of the 10 leadership behaviors below you currently embody?
1. Be a mentor and a coach (not a drill sergeant)
View yourself as a mentor and coach who is there to help develop your team members, not as a drill sergeant there to crack the whip and keep employees in check.
In this day and age of the knowledge industry, there are very few instances where the drill sergeant method works. Most employees want to find a job where they can grow, be challenged with great work, be respected and where they can build great relationships.
View yourself as a coach who is there to motivate the team when they need it and mend their wounds to get everyone ready to fight another day.
2. Put yourself in their shoes
Every great leader was once a follower. Never forget where you came from and put yourself in your team members’ shoes to view things from their perspective.
The best way to support your employees is to remind yourself of when you were in their position.
Ask yourself: what would have been helpful to me if I was in that situation? What type of support/coaching would I have benefited from?
3. Give them challenges & help them build a yearly development plan
To build a happy high performance team, you need to challenge your team to do their best work while allowing them to reach their personal career objectives as well.
A happy employee is one who sees the value of their work and who feels productive and needed. As a manager and a coach, you should help each team member reach their full potential by helping them develop a yearly development plan of career goals they would like to meet.
Then during the year, be on the lookout for these opportunities and give them to the employees who are actively working on acquiring these skills.
4. Tailor your management style
Everyone operates differently and is driven by different motivations. Some of us are intrinsically motivated while others are extrinsically motivated.
Get to know each one of your team members individually and discover what makes them tick. Adapt your management style to each personality type since no one size fits all!
5. Lead by example
The greatest managers are the first ones to get their hands dirty when push comes to shove. They are the first ones to jump in the trenches and lead by example.
If you are asking for your team to work overtime, then you should be in the trenches with them throughout the night.
After all, they are helping you build your widgets!
6. Be open, honest and transparent
Good communication and trust are key ingredients for a happy high performance team. If you want your team to feel comfortable, to be honest and have trust in you, then you need to do the same with them.
We can always sense when someone is not being genuine with us, it's like a 6th sense. Being honest and open is also about admitting your own mistakes and being vulnerable.
7. Be willing to have difficult conversations when needed
At the end of the day, we are running a business and trying to turn a profit in a competitive market. The business world is not all sunshine and roses. Sometimes you need to have difficult conversations with a team member if they are not meeting expectations.
Part of being an honest and open leader & coach is to have conversations with your team about their performance when you can see that they are not operating at their best. This does not mean it's time to lose your empathy. Perhaps they need additional support or guidance?
The way you word the feedback is extremely important and the conversation should focus on suggestions for improvement & further development, as well as the positive aspect of their performance.
Remember that we are all human and mistakes happen. Simply hitting someone on the head for their mistakes is not constructive. Offer support and actionable feedback.
8. Cultivate a learning & growth mindset within yourself
In order to be a great manager & leader, you first need to admit to yourself that you don’t know everything and that there is always room for improvement. This applies to EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US. ;)
Cultivate a personal growth mindset within yourself and create your own yearly development plan. Never stop learning!
9. Be confident and trust yourself
If you aren’t confident in yourself and don’t trust your own abilities, then how can you ask this of your team?
Leaders need to show confidence, provide their team with a direction and a compelling vision.
Trust your own abilities, they are what got you to where you are today.
10. Start by working on your own issues
If you find yourself lacking in any of the points above, then the first place you should focus on might be to develop yourself.
This can only be done if you are honest and objective with yourself about your own possible internal issues or road blocks.
But in my experience, this is the best place for a leader to be to cultivate empathy and leadership capabilities.
Now get out there and lead your team to the next superbowl!
Sign up to SWAAAP.com for FREE to meet new potential team members, partners and clients!