I don’t care if you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a small business owner or a manager or supervisor; you are only as good as the people around you. In other words, it’s important to surround yourself with success-oriented people.
When hiring, always try to pick future leaders. They may not be easy to recognize, but they’re crucial to an organization that wants to be innovative and intrapreneurial. Here’s a list of factors that can help you identify and develop potential leaders on your staff:
Those are traits that employees bring to the job. Now it’s up to you to help them develop the skills that will enable them use those traits most effectively.
First and foremost, you need to be a role model. People will learn much more from your actions than from anything you say. If you want to be an effective manager, you must be comfortable knowing that your employees might be smarter, more tech savvy or have new ways of doing business. Try to remember your early career and what you did to prove yourself. Give them enough latitude to develop their own style, but be ready to offer a guiding hand when necessary.
Teach the importance of networking. Learning how to make contacts is a necessary skill for every leader. Stress the importance of both internal and external networks. I frequently preach, “If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I’d say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts.”
Share the value of perspective. Maintaining an even keel in good and bad times prevents the temptation to jump to rash conclusions when a challenge arises, or conversely, when you have had the biggest success of your career. Emotions have a place, but not in business decisions. As I like to say, “Make decisions with your heart and you’ll end up with heart disease.”
Insist on respect: for authority, for co-workers and for self. Good leaders treat people like people, not property. Successful leaders won’t stoop to doing deeds that go against their principles just to make a buck. Good leaders have standards that cannot be compromised because it would destroy their self-respect.
Remind them constantly: Cream doesn’t rise to the top; it works its way up. There is no substitute for hard work. When employees see you working harder than they do, you are reinforcing that a dedicated work ethic is a necessary characteristic of a good leader.
Instill confidence. Give credit where it is due. Encourage employees to take charge of projects that will allow them to take appropriate risks and take responsibility for outcomes.
Make sure they understand responsibility. As writer Max De Pree puts it, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. . . . A friend of mine characterized leaders simply like this: ‘Leaders don’t inflict pain; they bear pain.’”
Mackay’s Moral: If you want to grow tomorrow’s leaders, plant seeds of wisdom today.
Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.
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