"Leading is about people and people are messy,” says Lt. Cmdr. Chip Lutz in his article, “Leadership: It Ain’t No Birthday Party!” from the latest Ziglar Newsletter. As great as getting the opportunity to lead is, potential leaders need to ask themselves some serious questions as they contemplate the next step. Here are a few, with answers, as suggested by Lutz:
1. Am I ready to make unpopular decisions? Sometimes, doing what is right makes people angry. Not every decision will be well-received or liked.
2. Am I ready to put others before myself? Leading is about serving. The needs of the team come before your own needs.
3. Am I ready to not be liked? Some won’t like the fact that you’re in that position instead of them. Others won’t like the donuts you bring in.
4. Am I ready to pass all of the credit and take all of the blame? As leader, your team’s success is theirs and their failure is yours. You can delegate authority but not responsibility. The buck stops with you!
5. Am I ready to be on the “they” team? No matter how much you empathize with the team, you’re the “they” that gets complained about around the water cooler (and to their spouse).
6. Can I stand up for what’s right in the face of adversity? Whether it’s with your team or your superiors, leaders must stand up for what they believe in. No flip-flops or milquetoast allowed.
7. Can I confront a situation in person? It may be giving bad news, correcting problem behavior, or having to let someone go. Regardless, giving the news in person is the only way to go. Email confrontations are for managers, not leaders.
8. Do I like repeating myself? No matter how much you communicate, there will be those who don’t listen. No matter how many times you say it, you’ll need to say it again.
9. Can I laugh at myself? Leaders who can laugh at themselves help create an atmosphere of risk without fear of reprisal. If you take yourself too seriously, people will be laughing AT you and not with you.
10. Can I walk the talk? If you are saying one thing and doing another, your team will be the first to notice and will follow suit.
11. Am I ready to know even when I don’t know? In a stressful situation that seems to have no apparent solution, teams need to know that you know what to do (even when you don’t know). Keep your insecurities and your stress to yourself, it will only complicate the situation.
Once you determine that you’re ready to say “yes” to these questions and take on a leadership role, you’ll have “followers.” In a business, these are your employees, and you may need some helpful shortcuts to help you be the best manager you can be.
I like the way Geoffrey James gets back to the basics in 12 Shortcuts to Be a Better Boss (inc.com). His pattern is, here’s what to do, and here’s why:
1. Manage individuals not numbers, because the only way to change the numbers is to change people’s behaviors.
2. Adapt your style to each person, because management is never a one-size-fits-all proposition.
3. Measure only what’s truly relevant, because measuring what’s not creates irrelevant behavior.
4. Set only one priority per person, because “multiple priorities” is an oxymoron that creates indecision and chaos.
5. Stay even-tempered, because your employees need a leader who keeps a cool head in a crisis.
6. Take responsibility for your low performers, because they are the measure of your management skill.
7. Share your thoughts and ideas, because only then can they truly be honed and sharpened.
8. Ask questions rather than provide answers, because that will teach your employees to think for themselves.
9. Treat everyone as equally as possible, because “teacher’s pets” and “golden children” are ruinous to morale.
10. Expect only what you’re willing to give yourself, because a true leader must also be a role model.
11. Explain the reasoning behind your decisions, because that helps your employees understand you better.
12. Make decisions quickly, because it’s better to act and fail than to procrastinate and learn nothing.
Being an effective leader is critical to the success of your business. We have many great leaders downtown who have, in turn, created successful businesses. We also have some spaces available for new businesses to relocate downtown, so call (252-338-4104) to see how you can be a part of our “family of leaders.” See you downtown!