Since leadership is always a hot topic, we wanted to share this spot-on article from Inc.com about leadership--we put our own little spin on it, but it was too good not to pass along.
You know that good leaders aren't made just by putting a C in front of someone's title, or slapping "Manager" or "Supervisor" at the end of it. There are people who wind up in leadership positions that might not have any business being there without additional development, and there are leaders you've worked with and that made you think, "Working with that person was one of the highlights of my career." So what can leaders today do to be the latter and not the former? One resource offered what they deemed the 10 Commandments of Leadership, and we've offered our own version of 10 things good leaders can do.
1. Stay Optimistic
Not every day is sunshine and rainbows, but your team doesn't need to know that. Spreading doom and gloom around the team won't increase productivity or morale--it's your job to worry about what you need to worry about and shelter your team when you can, so they can do their job and not worry. If you have tough news, instead of just spewing it, or dumping it out like garbage, take some time to think about the best way to deliver it. And if the thing that's darkening your skies has nothing to do with the team, putting on a sunny disposition would likely be more beneficial for them than having you rain on their parade.
2. Share the Direction
Keep your goals and end-state front and center to the team so they can see and feel what they're working toward. Paint the picture for them and inspire them to do what they do best. When we can get alignment, knowing we're all headed in the same direction, with the same priorities, and the same vision, we'll be far more effective as a team. Chances are that even though you've been thinking about your vision for a while, your team may not be as familiar with it as you are, and they could benefit from hearing or seeing you describe it for them.
3. Plan the Work and Work the Plan
Plans rarely go exactly the way we hope--but planning enables us to adjust better on the fly when we need to. Take a note from Dwight Eisenhower: "Plans are nothing; planning is everything." Help your team plan for the day, the week, the month--do what you need to do to look ahead as a team and get on the same page about a project or goal.
4. Have Enough of What You Need
Check with your team to make sure they have the right resources--people, tools, technology--to do what they need to do. We know no one lives in an ideal world, and we're perpetually low on dollars, hands, and time, but how will you help your team work with what they have? Make sure that if your team needs something to accomplish their goals or or to execute on the vision that you've helped secure the resources they need to get it done.
One of a leader's biggest job is communication and connecting the dots--but that's hard to do if you don't close your mouth and open your ears. If you feel you need to take your turn on a soapbox or coach an employee, don't start until you've heard and understood what the other person is feeling and saying. And if you think you're 100% right and they're 100% wrong, now's not the best time to speak (or act). Listen to their perspective, their story, their insights before you share your own.
6. Have an Objective for Every. Single. Meeting.
Seriously. This is non-negotiable. If you don't have something you're trying to accomplish from that meeting (an objective, purpose, or outcome), then you don't need to meet. The end. Unless you want to waste everyone's time and not get anything done... Before asking someone to step away from their work to participate in a meeting of any sort, make sure you've thought about and articulated what outcome or benefit you expect from this gathering. And then make sure you really achieve it.
7. Praise in Public, Coach in Private
Don't bring up a mistake or dropped ball to a team member in front of the rest of the team. If there's an issue, deal with it behind the scenes with the necessary parties. Embarrassment and hurt feelings don't make friends or good followers, so do what you can to save the person and stop the behavior. And chances are pretty good that they already know what they did wrong - they're probably harder on themselves than you are. And you reminding someone publicly of a shortcoming is rarely a motivator for anyone to shine. On the flip side, celebrating successes out loud together can help improve morale, so don't be stingy with the praise!
8. Don't Ask Your Team to Do Something You Wouldn't
This one speaks for itself--if you there is a task or action that you haven't done in the past or wouldn't be willing to do right now alongside your team, then think a little more about what you're asking of them.
9. Don't Be a Bottleneck
Learn how and when to delegate work and decisions effectively so your team can get stuff done without you--progress will be swifter and everyone will be happier. You may have to let go of some things, but putting them in someone else's hands may turn out to be even better than having you do them!
10. Give Credit and Take Blame
When a project or effort goes well, stand behind your team and push them into the spotlight. If something goes poorly, shelter the team and take the blame. This is a surefire way to earn respect and commitment from your team members. It's tough to do, but no one ever said leading others was easy.
To get a dive into targeted development components intended to improve the interactions front‐line leaders and other leaders have with their teams, check out the Supervisory Series!