Being the boss doesn’t make us leaders. To be leaders, we need followers, not people who have learned to follow because they have to in order to collect a paycheck. That’s meaningless. So what’s missing? The credibility factor. We need to be believed, and we need to demonstrate that we deserve to be trusted. In fact, we need to earn employee trust every bit as much as we need to earn the trust of our customers.
John Maxwell, says, ’ You can’t lead people until you like people.’ When employees feel that you care about building relationships within the company, they’ll begin to follow. The structure will begin to change, and you can lay the foundation for team building across job descriptions and departments. The more that occurs, the more influence you have as a leader: your people feel liked, valued and trusted, and the atmosphere is infused with new energy. More importantly, you begin to lead, not because you’re the boss, but because you’ve proven your genuine capacity to motivate and inspire.
Since we can’t expect people to follow us out of blind faith, what can we do? We need to remember that businesses have two types of customers: external and internal.
If we were dealing with an external sales prospect, we would first need to establish need. Employees are our internal customers, and in a similar vein, we can’t expect them to buy in to our leaderships goals until we establish their needs. In other words, we need to know what’s important to them. And, just like external customers, we must demonstrate through our actions, what’s in it for them.
Here are some ways to do just that:
1. Be open and authentic: keep your employees up to date and acknowledge their contributions to your success.
2. Be a motivator, not a blamer. When things go wrong, don’t offer excuses or assign blame. Keep your standards high and make everyone part of the solution.
3. Communicate on a regular basis. You can run but you can’t hide. Employees are smart. They can tell when things aren’t right and when you’re trying to hide something. Don’t wait for the guess work and rumor mill to kick in. Tell your own story before someone else tells it for you. In fact, why not ask them to find a viable solution with you?
4. Trust them. Give them a chance. After all, you hired them.
5. Create opportunities to succeed. What do they need to be better? Tools? Training? Do it. You all reap the benefits.
6. Create a physical work environment that inspires creativity, positivity and productivity.
7. Take ownership. Look for opportunities that maximize strengths and help build others.
8. Find balance. On a scale of tasks and responsibilities ranging from boring to over challenging, find a way to meet in the middle. For the overworked and over-challenged, take a bit of the load off and spread the wealth around. Perhaps some of your bored to tears employees can help.
9. The most important thing to remember, is that the goal is to make everyone feel that they are part of a team and that the team is special. Together, you all contribute to the success of the business.
Wow, see what you just created? You’ve proven your worth, and in the process, created an environment, under your leadership, where everyone works together toward a common goal. Everyone benefits. Even your customers. You can’t beat that!