As Harry S. Truman once said, “The buck stops here,” the notion that accountability ultimately rests with the leader of an organization has been a mainstay of American business. How many times have we seen scandals where a military leader or a school superintendent steps down?
Our expectations of our leaders are high. A leader of an organization doesn’t just make business or strategic decisions but must also be able to motivate his/her staff and to lead them in uncharted or rocky situations. What makes a strong and effective leader different from a weak leader?
Effective communication is one of the most important qualities of a business leader.
The first thing that makes you an effective leader is effective communication with the employees. As we stated above, it is not effective to hire some employees and throw tasks at them with no guidance and understanding of the mission. Communication helps you understand your employees and for your employees feel comfortable about expressing their concerns with you. Effective communication is a two way street that involves listening just as much as speaking.
Honesty and integrity – setting an example
It is human nature to want to associate with ethical people. We all want to be proud of where we work, what we do, and who we associate it with. In a way, it is a reflection on us as a person. No one wants to work with the next Bernie Sanders. How many people do you know admit they used to work for Enron?
Throughout our lives, we will encounter ethical dilemmas that will push the boundaries of what we believe is right or wrong. Your decisions at these points will help define you. Your staff will sense your moral compass and that will pervade your business. As you set the bar high, your staff will have the leader in which they must judge their own actions.
It won’t be easy but the rewards will be immense. As Andrew Leigh once said, “To be an ethical leader is indeed to be different. This kind of leader acknowledges the complexity of running a responsible business, yet tries to do it anyway.”
Motivation and inspiration can increase the productivity of the employees.
In order to get the most out of your employees, you must motivate them. While offering good pay and benefits might get you good quality staff, that does not mean that staff will go the extra mile for you or the business. You must motivate and inspire your staff to bring their best every day.
How do you do this? Of course, setting an example is key. If you are not enthusiastic about the business then how can you expect your staff to be? Create a mission statement and communicate with your staff how the team can work every day to fulfill that mission.
Empowering others for the work they deal with can be very effective.
The late Lee Iacocca revolutionized the auto industry and bought Chrysler from the edge of bankruptcy to exploding sales in the 1980’s. He changed how Chrysler operated in terms of giving dealerships and the sales department more input as to what the consumer wanted. Rather than having engineers design products that THEY felt were good, the company started listening to their “ears and eyes” on the street. By giving sales departments more input and ways to effect change, Chrysler empowered their employees and that helped navigate a turnaround like no other in the auto industry! You might have heard of a minivan….as much as it is made fun of, it is a mainstay of American cars and was brought to the market by Chrysler.
Being an effective leader is not easy and there will be bumps along the road. But being a leader means defining a path and navigating your team along that path. It is the path not just for business success but for emotional and spiritual success.