As a business owner, you set the tone for your employees, and you never know when something you say or do will make an impact on another person, either good or bad. That’s why developing your leadership skills is so important.
Modern leaders require new tools to reach employees. It used to be that leaders managed employees with fear and retribution. In this old-style model, there was a definite hierarchy, and workers were reminded frequently of their lower status.
That leadership style wasn’t effective then, and would be even less effective now. Employees work best when they know they’re appreciated, and are allowed to work in collaboration with others. They want frequent feedback and access to managers and leaders.
These nine qualities will help you personalize your leadership style:
Listening is the foundation of any good relationship, says Dave Kerpen, author of Likeable Business. When you listen to employees, you validate their opinions, and it allows you to delve deeper into their ideas. Chip Bell, founder of the Chip Bell (consulting) Group, says, “Effective questioning brings insight, which fuels curiosity, which cultivates wisdom."
2. Share a Story
In the book Influencer, author Kerry Patterson says, “Changing behavior requires changing minds.” And while most leaders try to change behaviors through verbal persuasion, Patterson believes the great persuader is personal experience. He says, “With persistent problems, it’s best to give verbal persuasion a rest and try to help people experience the world as you experience it.” Doing this through stories can create moments that help your employees view the world in new ways.
3. Be Authentic
Vulnerability, humility and conscience are hallmarks of authentic leaders. Robert Greenleaf, author of Servant Leadership, writes, “Conscience is the inward moral sense of what is right and what is wrong. That one quality is the difference between leadership that works and leadership that endures. There is a mass of evidence that shows this moral sense, this conscience, this inner light, is a universal phenomenon.”
4. Be Transparent
Openness and honesty are absolute imperatives in business because there is nowhere to hide, and business people who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. In The Culture of Collaboration, author Evan Rosen says sharing information builds trust, breaks down barriers and encourages collaboration.
5. Be a Team Player
Rosen discusses Toyota’s principle-driven culture as a model that works. He writes, “The ‘Toyota Way’ consists of ingrained principles, which are the foundation of its culture. Among the principles is nemawashi, which means to prepare a tree’s roots for the soil. The metaphorical meaning is to make decisions slowly by consensus.”
“Leaders take the initiative in mobilizing people for participation in the processes of change, encouraging a sense of collective identity and collective efficacy, which in turn brings stronger feelings of self-worth and self-efficacy,” writes James McGregor Burns in his interesting book, Transforming Leadership. Responsiveness means being able to adapt to changing situations.
We’re seeing more businesses take on community projects for the greater good as a way to not only create good will for the company but as a way to bring employees together in social responsiveness.
7. Show Passion
Leaders with passion are able to transfer that energy and passion to their employees. Stephen Covey refers to these leaders as “abundance thinkers” in his book, Principle Centered Leadership. He writes, “Abundance thinkers drink deeply from sources of internal security – sources that keep them gentle, open, trusting, and genuinely happy for the successes of other people….”
Kerpen explains that taking complex projects, challenges, and ideas, and distilling them to their simplest components allows staff members to better understand and buy into your vision. Use easy-to-understand language when talking to your staff, and ask questions to make sure they understand the concepts you’re trying to convey. Ask questions also to gain insight from employees – in other words, take time to get valuable feedback.
Effective leaders are grateful for the people who have contributed to their opportunities and successes. “Being appreciative and saying thank you to mentors, customers, colleagues and other stakeholders keeps leaders humble, appreciated, and well-received,” says Kerpen in Likeable Business.
As a case in point, think of the impact a personal, hand-written note has had on you in the past. It only takes a few minutes to jot down words of encouragement and share them with others.
Your dedication to being an authentic leader will not go unnoticed. Begin implementing these practices and discover the value for yourself.