Monday, June 29, 2009

Leaders With Attitudes

I got some very interesting reactions to my list of “10 Things Every Leader Should Know.” It was a simple little list, yet, for many of you, it seems that the list really resonated. A few people posted comments on the blog site, a few posted comments to me on Facebook, a few emailed me, and I even got a couple of phone calls.

Why did this simple list create such a reaction?

I think there are a couple of reasons for that. First, in spite of its simplicity, the list acknowledged that the leader has to do more than one thing to be effective. It seems that many of you believe that your leaders, at whatever level of the organization, believe they must only do one thing well to be a successful leader.

Obviously that is just not true.

Others focused on specific items on the list as being something really lacking in their leader. One person put it this way.

“I agree, Dave. Leadership is simple. So why do so many leaders get it wrong?”

I will write about some of the responses I got in future blogs, but this week I wanted to focus on several comments I received about the way attitude plays into leadership.

Attitude is an issue with leaders. Several people commented that I hinted at the importance of the leader's attitude, but they wished I had been more direct. “Don’t leaders realize that the employees adapt the attitude of the leader? When the leader has a bad attitude, so do the employees.”

This is true. When the leader has an attitude of hope and presents hope to the employees, they follow with hope in their heart.

When the leader's attitude about customers is concerned and caring and they demonstrate that through policies and procedures, the employees work hard to take care of the customers.

But when the leader's attitude is negative, the employees also adopt that same attitude. If the leader is depressed about the prospects for the future, the employees are as well. If the leader is worried about the revenue stream, the employees sense this and become worried as well. And when the leader is just in a crappy mood for an extended period, that mood becomes the mood around the entire office.

This is not a suggestion for leaders to apply a fake smile and pretend to be happy when they are not. After all, employees can always sense a fake. But rather, this is an acknowledgement that what you do, how you act , and even how you feel have a much bigger impact on those around you when you are a leader.

All leaders have an attitude. If you are not projecting the right attitude, you are most certainly projecting the wrong one.

Until next time......

ECI Learning Systems, LLC

Monday, June 22, 2009

10 Things Every Leader Should Know

Whether you are a new or an experienced leader, there are some key things that every leader should know and understand to ensure their success. While some people are natural born leaders, others learn through trial and error. But whether you are a natural leader or someone who has learned leadership the hard way, there are a few things every leader should know. Below are 10 items that you should apply every day to ensure your success as a leader.

1. Vision - Your team is looking to you for hope. As a leader it is your responsibility to tell the truth, but to also provide a clear vision and hope for the future.

2. Communication - It’s not enough to have a clear vision for the future if no one knows what that vision is. Communicate that vision continually to all levels of your organization.

3. Action - People will follow what they see more quickly than what they hear. Don’t just communicate your vision but live it through your actions.

4. People - The best way to show how smart you are is to hire people that are even smarter than you are. Your success will be defined by those around you. Surround yourself with the smartest people you can find at all levels of your organization.

5. Listen - All around you there are wonderful ideas floating around. But you can’t hear them if you are too busy talking. You hired those smart people, now listen to them.

6. Motivation - You can’t motivate anyone because motivation comes from within. But you can provide an environment that encourages people and allows them to stretch to their limits and beyond.

7. Talent - Everyone has talent; something they can do better than almost anyone else. Identifying people’s talents and utilizing those talents in an organization means that you can get the best from every employee.

8. Trust – Great teams are built on the foundation of great leadership. Great leadership is built on the foundation of great trust. Start building trust on day one and never let up.

9. Development – In good times and bad you want to be able to do more with less. That means spending the time and the money to develop the talent on your team. It’s this development that will help your team survive and thrive when you need them most.

10. Energy - Workplace energy means that your team is fully engaged at all levels of the organization. Workplace energy happens when the company’s culture, the management's style and the employees' expectations overlap and create a synergy that propels the entire organization forward.

Until next time......

ECI Learning Systems, LLC

Monday, June 15, 2009

Following the Leader

I had an interesting discussion with a client last week. She had just started a new job in a new company and while she was excited by the opportunity, she was surprised by some of the messages coming from the CEO. She knew that the CEO was a hard charger when she took the job. In fact, she took the job because he was a hard charger. But hearing his message did not motivate her. In fact, it had just the opposite affect.

In the first few days on her new job, this client has been engaged in several meetings with the CEO. And while she expected him to be demanding of her and his executive team in general, she found his attitude to be highly negative, his message gloomy, and his overall demeanor downright depressing. In meeting with her counterparts she found that the other executives had adopted this very same view of the world, leading her to be further depressed. So instead of being energized in the first few weeks of her new job, she found that the leadership of her new company to be sapping the energy right out of her.

When times are tough and businesses are struggling with revenue streams, focusing their efforts on expense control, and generally hunkering down waiting for the bad times to blow over, it’s easy to forget that where leaders lead, followers follow. When the leader leads on a positive, but realistic path people follow optimistically. When the message from the leader is doom and gloom, that message is absorbed by the rest of the organization.

Have you ever worked for a leader whose entire attitude and demeanor was negative? Did you find that leadership inspiring, or did it make going to work even more of a chore?

We don’t want our leaders to be “Pollyanna’s” but if leaders are to inspire us to achieve their vision, then their leadership should be equally inspirational.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories on this subject.

Until next time....

ECI Learning Systems, LLC