Not everyone has the leadership abilities of Jack Welch or Steve Jobs, but there are some things everyone in a leadership position can do to improve their relationship with their team. Mutual respect is vital to a leader’s ultimate success so it is important that these six tips are followed by all leaders.
Coach Behind Closed Doors; Praise in Public
Good leaders realize a lot of their success is achieved through the help of others. Instinctively, they seem to understand that their accomplishments are due to their support group so they are careful not to publicly humiliate their valued contributors. Praising in public goes a long way toward instilling confidence in subordinates while coaching behind closed doors maintains the two-way respect built in the relationship. Mistakes are bound to be made but if a leader handles them professionally and appropriately, subordinates will continue to grow and prosper under the leader’s leadership. Remember the phrase “it may be a bad dog, but it’s my dog. "
Remember You Don’t Know it All
Leaders by nature have an undying belief they know more than others or those within their peer group. While this reality may be true in many instances, it’s not true across the board. Each person, regardless of their position within an organization, has something unique to add and has expertise in areas others do not, or they wouldn’t be a member of the team. You’ll win more people over by encouraging others to contribute to your team’s success than you will assuming you know it all and making every decision autonomously. Seek others’ input and consider multiple points of view prior to making a decision.
Every project or task cannot be a top priority project or task. There can only be one number one. You owe it to your supporting cast to define which projects take precedence over others so they can effectively do their jobs. If you consistently flip-flop priorities each week, you are sending mixed signals that will result in skittish outcomes. To achieve success, a team needs a vision and a plan. Part of that includes setting priorities and sticking to them. Your subordinates will thank you in the long run even if you become a stickler every now and again.
Get a Life
Just because you enjoy your job so much that you regularly put in fourteen hour days plus weekends, it’s not acceptable for that to become an expectation for others. Most employees enjoy having a life outside of work, and it’s ridiculous for a leader or a company to expect those working under their guidance to suggest otherwise. Just because an employee is on salary doesn’t mean free reign over their life. When the expectation is set that employees work 8-5 Monday through Friday, and employees meet those stipulations, all bets are off for your “mandatory" 10 AM meetings on Saturday morning. In other words, get a life and allow your employees to live theirs as they wish once the workday and week is completed.
Walk in Others’ Shoes
Let’s say you have a very good employee that has been falling off performance wise the past few weeks and doesn’t seem to be herself of late. Most leaders’ gut reaction is to have a “coaching" session with the employee. Why not have a heartfelt conversation with the employee to find out what is going on instead? If the employee will open up and share what they are experiencing, give her the benefit of the doubt by attempting to put yourself in her place before taking corrective action. She will appreciate the empathy, and you might just gain a new perspective on things that will benefit both of you throughout the professional relationship. Everything isn’t always black and white in spite of our wishes.
Be Fair Above All Else
No one appreciates discrimination. At the same time, employees resent a leader that has favorites which receive preferential treatment. In short, don’t go there! As a leader, it is your job to be objective and treat everyone with equality above all. Naturally, you’re going to like certain people more than others because that is human nature, but don’t let that blur your judgment of their work performance. If one of your more likeable employees makes a mistake, discipline them just as you would the gruff of the team and vice versa. It’s only fair, and it will maintain respect amongst the group.
In conclusion, by following these six tips, you can improve your leadership skills while also gaining additional respect and admiration from your team. Isn’t that what every leader wants?
Roger Bauer is Founder and CEO of SMB Consulting, Inc. , a nationally recognized small business consulting firm. Their clients benefit from increased revenues, decreased costs, and/or minimized risks. You can read more about SMB Consulting, Inc. by visiting Management Consulting .