When was the last time you examined your leadership style and the approach you used to inspire and lead your employees? Your leadership behavior and performance affect many people and you may not realize just how extensive your impact is. The following are five truths of leadership that we hope will inspire you to evaluate and evolve your leadership approach.
Truth #1: Leaders have to keep learning and growing
Leadership takes work. Every leader has skills that help them lead. But every leader is also flawed and can always improve their skills. It is important to accept that you will make mistakes. How you react to and address the mistakes define what kind of leader you are. Good leaders welcome feedback and constructive criticism from people whose opinions they trust—and seek to improve themselves continually. Just as you expect your employees to develop and improve over time, you should also grow as an individual and as a manager. Look for opportunities to learn more and hone your skills. Leaders, just like the individuals they lead, must keep their skills sharp to build a successful team.
Truth #2: Your success depends on the success of your team
You’ve heard the adage, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” More than text on an inspirational poster, this saying is the truth behind one of the keys to good leadership—you cannot do it alone. Realize that you cannot be everything to everyone, control every aspect of your business or ensure the success of your company alone. Your company’s success or failure is in the hands of those who run each aspect of your business from day to day. Every person in each level of your business has the power to impact what your company becomes and how it performs.
Truth #3: An investment in your people is an investment in your company
Imagine the potential impact on your career if you had been groomed and educated for leadership from the beginning. In your current position, you have the opportunity to help mold and develop others, setting them on the path to future success. Consider creating a mentorship program where your higher-level employees guide and advise less experienced team members, preparing them for future leadership roles within the company. Perhaps you feel inspired to offer educational opportunities for your staff members who want to personally and professionally challenge themselves. Whatever tactics you use, don’t limit the methods you use to invest in your employees, because each employee has different needs and skills. A leader who values their employees as assets to be developed and invested in will see positive results for years to come.
Truth #4: Loyalty is earned, not deserved
Leaders often fear investing “too much” in their employees, because they may then lose them to other employers. Loyalty is an invaluable factor in preventing this type of turnover but this loyalty has to be earned. You cannot expect that employees will choose what is best for your company over what is best for their own future. Therefore, you must align those two goals, ensuring that putting their skills to use for the success of your business is in their best interests. When you invest in the individuals that make up your business, you are investing in the company and earning their loyalty at the same time. How you invest in them depends on your creativity and resources, but the key is to let your employees see your honest intent to invest in developing them both as workers and individuals.
Truth #5: Lead by example
The example you set will be followed and perhaps even amplified by your employees. For instance, if you often play the “blame game” and instill in your employees a fear of failure while developing a culture of blame, they will employ the same unhealthy tactic within their own work behavior and relationships. The ripple effect of your habits can be astounding. Leaders who have a strong set of principles and guiding values—and live by them—command much more respect than those who do not. A leader should always display the kind of behavior that (s)he would like to see from their team.
Hopefully, as you read the points above, you found yourself feeling proud of the way you have led your team in the past. As you continue to lead your staff, remember to take the time to invest in yourself and your personnel to produce the absolute best results for all.