September 27, 2010 Executive, Leadership, Management

Your Daily Impact on Others

Good leadership is important to me.  Like most of us I have seen bad and good.  But mainly it’s important because of all the people we interact with in our daily life, whether we talk to them or not.  Each individual we come across influences us in some way, even if by a thought.  We influence others in the same way, even if by just a simple action, smile or other expression. 

When you happen to be in an “official” leadership position; either by position, title or circumstance the impact you have is even greater.

I know I have mentioned these in some form or fashion before, but these ten things remind me of the influence I can have on others and the fact that I want it to be a positive one.  I hope they help you too.

1. Remember that everyone is watching.

One of the most important things to keeping mind is that all leaders are role models.    You’re constantly setting examples, be they good or bad. And your employees will follow your lead and do as you do. Therefore, you must constantly remind yourself that you are a role model.  Be cognizant of this truth and let it steer your actions.

2. Learn from bad examples.

At some point in your career, you‘ll likely find yourself working for someone you believe isn’t up to the job.  Don’t dismiss this experience as a total loss.  This is an excellent opportunity to learn a great deal about what not to do.

3. Make the right decision.

Decision making should be rather easy:  Simply ask yourself, “What’s the right thing to do?”  The right thing is usually easy to recognize, though it may not be the decision you want to make.  Nonetheless, doing the right thing almost never gets you into trouble. 

4. Say what you are going to do, and then do it.

If you tell someone that you will return a call, do it. If you tell one of your staff you will check into something for them, do it.  Few actions will cost you others’ respect faster than failing to keep your word.

5. When a tough decision has to be made, deliver the message yourself.

When call upon to make a difficult decision – be it downsizing a department, terminating a poor performer, taking business away from a long-time vendor or relocating your organization – take it upon yourself to deliver the message.  Don’t hide behind the staff, letting someone else communicate the bad news.  Handling it yourself will force you to contemplate your actions thoroughly and completely understand their implications.

6. Let them know where they stand.

Too often, performance reviews catch employees off guard.  To be a leader that people want to follow, you need to consistently let others know what they do well and what areas need improvement. A truly successful appraisal process will see employees receiving the outcome they anticipated because they were consistently advised of their strengths and weaknesses throughout the year.

7.  Always ask for others’ opinions.

When faced with a tough decision, ask your staff for advice.  By requesting their opinions on various matters, you show that you value their ideas.  You may even hear a suggestion that hadn’t crossed your mind.  Remember, you’re not obligated to do anything anyone suggests, but just asking will bring invaluable dividends.

8. Share your philosophy.

When making decisions, take the time to explain to your staff how you reached those decisions.  The more they know how you think, the better they will become at meeting your expectations.   Tell prospective employees during the hiring process what working for you is going to be like.  Tell them ahead of time what it will take for them to get ahead and what mistakes could cost them.  Expressing your philosophy is the first step to getting your staff to repeat your message on their own.

9. Personalize it.

Remember the little things, such as birthdays and anniversaries.  You don’t need to buy a gift, but handwritten notes go a long way.  And saying something specific shows that you think your people are worth spending extra time on.  Also, remember them during the holidays; give them all the same thing or personalize each gift.  Listen throughout the year for things they like, collect or do for a hobby.  Nothing builds camaraderie like showing your staff you have a personal interest in them.

10. Set high expectations.

Set expectations high for yourself and others.  Demand quality.  Don’t give in if you know the work could be better.  By setting high personal standards, you also show that your hiring standards are high.  This translates into a reputation that you only hire the best, which says a lot to the people who work for you: It means they must be great if you hired them.    They develop a great sense of pride in working for someone who only expects the best.