Would You Work for You?

April 30, 2008

Would You Work for You?
By Sam Geist

Would you? Would you go into the trenches for you everyday-and be glad you did? Do your leadership skills, values and vision inspire leadership-or do they encourage dreams of escape?

Being an effective leader today-in a huge organization or in a proprietorship of one is tougher than at any previous time, due in large measure to marketplace changes occurring faster than ever before-and decision making following suit with equal speed.

That said-becoming an effective leader is certainly attainable. It only takes hard work, dedication, knowledge, up-to-date information, empathy, skills, enthusiasm, ability, an innovative and inquisitive mind, …

Start your quest to become an effective leader with these three leadership principles, so that you would work for you.

1. Know Yourself
Confront yourself with an honest eye. You needn't look for perfection in the mirror. Few leaders are perfect. You must however, see yourself as you really are-with all your warts. Take time to recognize your specific strengths and capabilities. Use your energies to maximize them.

Recognize your weaknesses. Develop a plan to minimize them. Ask yourself, what makes a great leader? Determine the characteristics of someone you would like to work for-and then become that person, in your ideas, your vision, your attitude and your actions.

2. Know Your Role
Without a doubt, one of your principal responsibilities is the acquisition of accurate information, its correct assessment and the effective decision making that results. However, your most important responsibility is to ensure that your staff takes ownership of their role. You can tell if you have been successful, simply by observing their actions.

While leadership style, like Herb Kelleher's, for example, provides great fodder for conversation, it is a much less important attribute than the actual demonstration of leadership.

Recent studies noted that participants focused on two issues when discussing effectiveness of their leaders-management skills and supportive facilitation (not style). And within those two issues, skills were indeed considered valuable, however it was the leaders' every day behavior that provided motivation or dreams of escape.

3. Know Your People
Today's workforce is much changed from "the good old days" when a 30 year long, nine-to-five, local job was the norm.

Our work world has no borders, no regular hours, no long term loyalty. Staff, often young, comes from diverse backgrounds, unfamiliar with "the way it used to be." The work itself is altered. For example, highly specialized interdependent teams frequently replace individuals working in isolation.

Such situations create new and often unprecedented challenges for today's leaders. Those who are adept, flexible and future-focused, turn challenge into opportunity by embracing the new parameters and using them to move forward.

Seek out the most talented, energetic and creative staff-and get to know them well. Find out what makes them tick. Discover their needs, interests and goals. Notice hidden capabilities, unused talents.

Give your staff gifts-big gifts-like opportunity, space to grow and develop, exhilarating challenges, purpose to their work, trust, recognition and empowerment. The gifts you give will be repaid many times in staff loyalty, productivity and bottom line profitability.

Yes! Leading in the 21st Century will be tougher-more demanding than ever before. It will require putting together a plan that includes knowing who you are, what your role is and who your people are.

Effective leaders have already begun. They ask questions. They search for the most appropriate answers for their situation and then they "do." They act-they motivate-they lead.

Sam Geist
No idle armchair philosopher, Sam's insights stem from years of front-line business experience. He grew his single sporting goods store into a 15-store $40 million dollar a year national chain before he sold it to his competitor.
He opened a marketing and consulting agency, based on the full-service customer concepts he had honed in the retail arena, and went on to learn an entirely new set of skills and experiences.

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