I visit a variety of businesses and probably speak to at least 2,500 individuals every year. I usually hear the same gripes from business owners and managers alike, “I can’t get my employees motivated.” Or, “These guys just don’t want to work.” And lastly, “Seems like I have to constantly check on people.”
When I meet work teams who have these challenges, it is almost always the result of poor leadership and coaching. I go into organizations and perform something I call a “Business Tune-Up,” which consists of an evaluation of processes and systems to identify the areas that need improvement.
During these evaluations I occasionally meet managers or owners who, after observing them on the job, would be better suited in a position that does not require any leadership or coaching skills. I usually wind up telling them that I think they don’t have a business or employee problem, and the real culprit is a lack of good leadership. In most cases they listen, accept the reality of what I am saying, and we work on coaching and leadership development to improve the business.
Those who refuse help typically go out and pursue a solution that reinforces their personal beliefs. Occasionally they will find someone who will either charge them a lot of money to tell them what to do in every aspect of their business, or they will find someone else to tell them what they want to hear and not what they need to hear. I’m neither of the two. I usually have no filter. Sometimes people need to face the reality that they are not a good leader, and they need to have it hit them like a ton of bricks.
I follow certain guidelines and have come up with a list of key attributes that a good leader and coach should have. Great leadership requires specific skills and determination to win as a team, not as an individual.
Here are my 10 Great Rules of Leadership:
- Lead them to victory by helping them set personal goals and putting together a plan of action to get there.
- Make sure that your team understands the business mission, work rules, and overall performance objectives.
- Using the team’s input, develop processes and systems that they will follow rather than just telling them what to do.
- Be positive, optimistic, and energetic. Happy people create a happy environment.
- Be transparent. Your team should know what is going on with you and in your business to avoid rumors or morale problems.
- Have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls. You are not running for office, you are running a business.
- Empower team members to make decisions on the job without fear of retribution. Respond positively when great decisions are made without your input.
- Ask a lot of questions when things don’t make sense to you. Don’t wait forever when dealing with an employee’s performance problem.
- Know when to stand firm (Legal, ethical, and moral issues) and know when to bend.
- Celebrate successes and reward great achievements.
Motivating people is not a very complicated task. Typically I find demotivated employees in places where I have demotivated managers. The workplace has become a place people go in order to get a paycheck. Ambition is lacking, and generally everyone has reached a state of burnout. This doesn’t have to be you!
Maybe it’s time to reinvent, innovate, and work on a strategy that makes work a fun place to be. Try changing things up a bit every day: drive to work a different way, throw out all of the crap that has piled up on your desk. Set a goal to change at least one thing for the better every week.
When I managed people in the past, I made it a point to let them know how important they were, and that my job was to make sure that all of the obstacles that kept them from being the best they could be were removed. In order for that to happen, I needed their help and input to reach my goals. In turn, I helped them reach theirs. In the end, we all won.
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