Define leadership, and then redefine it in terms of you
by Jeffrey Gitomer
Published: April 18,2005
It occurred to me that most people who write about leadership are no longer leaders.
Easy for them to espouse their Monday morning philosophy — harder for the leaders under fire to take “former leader” direction. I just read an article in a business magazine written by a well-known “former leader.” I was horrified. One of the “key” points was that “clarity is the antidote of anxiety”; therefore “clarity” is the main concern of the effective leader. What a bunch of baloney.
If you’re a leader, and clarity is your main concern, nothing much is going on.
To me, leadership is multifaceted. There is no “one” concern more powerful than the other. Lead by example, loyalty of team, achievement of goals, profit to company, excellence of performance, great communication skills and fulfillment on the job. All of these are more important than “clarity.” To me, if a leader isn’t a bit “muddy” along the way, something’s wrong.
“Clarity is the antidote of anxiety.” Bogus. If a leader has anxiety, the first step would be to discover what’s causing it, and then take the necessary action to eliminate it. Being “clear” is a silly buzzword that means nothing. It’s as meaningless as “added value” or “on purpose” or “focus.” Just empty leadership — created words and phrases.
So, if you’re a boss, manager or leader of some kind, listen up. This lesson will help you clarify the real-world skills you need to be a true leader. I’m talking about the leadership qualities needed to succeed: the action items, principles and skills to employ so leadership works. So it works for you, your people, your customers, your vendors and your company — in that order.
But there are degrees of leadership effectiveness. Your ability to master these leadership skills are in direct proportion to your ability to lead. If you’re looking for clarity, look no further than these skills:
• Get your people to like you and believe in you. Hated leaders are eventually overthrown — or fired. If a hated leader cannot be fired, people will quit.
• Make sure your people and their jobs are a “fit.” People need to feel comfortable about the tasks they are performing and the space they’re performing them in.
• Let your people share their goals with you, then modify them together. When people set their own goals, they think they can achieve them.
• Give your people specific tasks and clear direction. Make sure all employees know what they are responsible for and how to perform or carry out their responsibilities. And make sure they see the big picture and how their part fits into it.
v• Create an environment in which people love their work and their workplace. Make the workplace fun. Make sure employees can complete tasks with a sense of pride and satisfaction. Provide a GREAT and happy atmosphere to work in. Make the duty, task or project challenging — without being oppressive or stressful.
• Make sure all “money matters” are clear. Don’t mess with employees’ money. And worse, don’t reduce pay or commissions to cut costs. Pay fair, benefit well and provide security. Otherwise people will leave.
• Make sure paychecks are accurate. People count their money and count on it. Nothing dings morale more than messed up wages.
• Encourage your people. The most effective leaders are coaches. They stand on the sidelines and cheer for their players. To encourage your people, buy everyone a copy of “The Little Engine That Could.”
• Reward your people. It doesn’t have to be money; however, if you ask them what they want, money will always be their answer. Whatever you give them, don’t be cheap about it. Make them feel valued.
• Praise your people. Praise hard work. Praise effort. Praise accomplishment. Often.
• By your actions and your achievements — be their hero. If you want them to become dedicated players, your people need to see your dedication. If you are the one driving the train and making big things happen, you will become a hero to those who respect your ethics and accomplishments.
How’s that for a dose of clarity? Many espouse the leadership philosophy of “You don’t have to be liked, you just have to be respected.” This is a great statement if you’re looking for high turnover. People want to work for people they like AND respect.
Let go of your ounce of power. Benevolence works better.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” Here’s a major point: If you’re the leader, and you’re not following the above rules, you don’t have to worry about getting out of the way. Your best people will run you over — or run away from you.
GitBit: If you want more on leadership skills, and the 8.5 qualities of a leader, go to www.gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time user — and enter LEADER in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
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