50% of people in the US alone left their last role to escape poor management. It’s clearly important to create strong leaders who engage. Your business success depends on it! Developing your managers’ leadership skills has massive business benefits. The advantages range from boosting employee engagement, productivity and profits to lowering staff turnover. A whopping 91% of employees feel motivated to do their best work when they have good leadership support. So how do we nurture those vital leadership skills?
B. F. Skinner is the father of behavior modification and developed the concept of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement occurs when a positive stimulus is presented in response to a behavior, increasing the likelihood of that behavior in the future. The following is an example of how positive reinforcement can be used in a business setting. Assume praise is a positive reinforcer for a particular employee. This employee does not show up to work on time every day. The manager of this employee decides to praise the employee for showing up on time every day the employee actually shows up to work on time. As a result, the employee comes to work on time more often because the employee likes to be praised. In this example, praise (the stimulus) is a positive reinforcer for this employee because the employee arrives at work on time (the behavior) more frequently after being praised for showing up to work on time.
Leadership is the timeless practice of guiding others in pursuit of a goal, destination or desired outcome. At the most fundamental level, a leader is someone who motivates, inspires and guides others toward pre-established goals.
Communication is key. Clear communication is an important part of any successful relationship, and the relationship between leader and team member is no different. Express your ideas clearly, making sure employees understand what you’re asking of them. Create a conversation-friendly environment, and give employees the freedom to express their thoughts and concerns. Team members are more willing to trust a leader with whom they are able to openly communicate.
The two leaders who immediately rise to leadership on the first day after the boys crash-land on the island in Lord of the Flies by William Golding are Ralph and Jack; however, it is clear that neither of them is in this position because he has proven himself to be a good leader.
Mark van Vugt and Anjana Ahuja in Naturally Selected: The Evolutionary Science of Leadership present evidence of leadership in nonhuman animals, from ants and bees to baboons and chimpanzees. They suggest that leadership has a long evolutionary history and that the same mechanisms underpinning leadership in humans can be found in other social species, too. Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson, in Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, present evidence that only humans and chimpanzees, among all the animals living on Earth, share a similar tendency for a cluster of behaviors: violence, territoriality, and competition for uniting behind the one chief male of the land. This position is contentious. Many animals beyond apes are territorial, compete, exhibit violence, and have a social structure controlled by a dominant male (lions, wolves, etc.), suggesting Wrangham and Peterson’s evidence is not empirical. However, we must examine other species as well, including elephants (which are matriarchal and follow an alpha female), meerkats (who are likewise matriarchal), and many others.
Identify your passions. Before you can achieve success, you will have to define what success means to you. While it may take years to realize what you want to do with your life, identifying your passions, interests, and values will help you set goals and give your life a sense of meaning. If you have trouble identifying these things, then ask a friend or family member to help you. Ask yourself the following questions:
What most people do: Say they’re going to start training by running 3 miles, 4 days a week. They accomplish their goal for the first week or two but soon life gets in the way. Then they run “whenever they get a chance.”
Nearly 60 percent of Moscone Elementary School’s students are English language learners, but Principal Patty Martel is determined that all of her students will be proficient in reading in English by the time they move on to middle school. In support of this goal, she allocates money from her limited school budget to pay for an early intervention literacy program as soon as a student begins struggling with reading. She also requires that all programs at her school include an element of literacy. Reading and writing are integrated into art, science, and everything else the students do.
Want to know why becoming successful in a business venture is considered such a daunting feat by society? While there are obvious hurdles to face, one of the biggest challenges is in overcoming the fear of jumping into a business in the first place. Most people dream all day about launching a successful business while watching the clock tick at their mundane day jobs. The reason they never quit the security of a paycheck is because they are too scared by the unknown that comes with starting a business. If you want to separate yourself from that crowd, you need to learn how to manage your own fears. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. When I quit my job to start my business, I was making double my salary outside my day job than I was inside working my eight hour job. I still had that huge fear of failure.
Remember that success does not guarantee happiness. Success is equated with achieving a goal, but don’t assume it will always bring happiness. Many people make the mistake that if they accomplish this or that, they’ll be happier. Fulfillment and satisfaction have a lot more to do with how you approach life than with what you do in life. Keep that in perspective.
Encourage and reward creativity: Show your staff that open to ideas. Give positive feedback and constructive advice. Reward employees for thinking outside the box and remember that a little praise can go a long way. Another benefit is you now have a team that is expanding their limits and increasing their value as employees.
From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC: “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”
Learning to be a leader isn’t easy because it takes a conscious commitment and consistent effort to develop one’s business leadership skills. But on the positive side, anyone who is willing to make the effort can become a good leader.