The simple adage “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade” is a great example of using leverage to move your business forward. Many people will make the lemonade and drink it themselves. A true entrepreneur will make lemonade and sell it to those without lemons, and use the profits to buy more lemons or move into another business. While today a polarizing political figure, Donald Trump is a great example of an entrepreneur who time and time again used leverage to acquire crucial pieces of real estate or strike very lucrative business deals. Love him or hate him, his book The Art of The Deal is a great resource on how leverage can make someone mega successful.
Once you take on a supervisory position, it’s time to trust your team to handle logistics while you focus on the vision and direction of your organization. This shows everyone that you believe in them, boosting their confidence and inspiring them to take more control of their work—which is essential to their own development as well as your progress.
In every strategic planning session that I have conducted for large and small corporations, the first value that all the gathered executives agree upon for their company is integrity. They all agree on the importance of complete honesty in everything they do, both internally and externally.
You must know your reasons for wanting to learn how to become successful and achieve your goals. This is the only way you can persevere when the going gets tough and achieve your goals. When things get challenging, reflect on what caused you to pursue this path in the first place. Were you conventionally successful but internally unhappy? Have you not utilized your skills as much as you would like to? Are you trying to become a more well-rounded individual? Whatever your reason for wanting to succeed, use these motivations as the cornerstone of your desire to work hard and achieve more.
Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to “win” as a team or an organization; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring.
For example, Nalini Ambady, a researcher at Tufts University, shows that when people watch 30-second soundless clips of real physician-patient interactions, their judgments of the physician’s niceness predict whether or not that physician will be sued. So it doesn’t have to do so much with whether or not that physician was incompetent, but do we like that person and how they interacted?
And as a coach, you have to inspire action that will help execute that goal. Reinforce an honest and candid environment without taking information personally. Equally treat everyone like you would want to be treated.
Leaders also need to know how to give others their views on personal performance in a way that will be constructive rather than destructive, and also hear others’ opinions of them. See our page on Giving and Receiving Feedback for more.
Communication may be the single most important skill of a manager. After all, all the others depend on it. You can’t be a leader if you can’t communicate your vision. You can’t motivate people if they can’t understand what you want. Communication skills can be improved through practice. Here are two exercises you can use to improve your ability to communicate effectively.
According to research from Gallup, managers account for up to 70% of the variance in engagement. With less than one-third of Americans engaged in their job, you can start to see how big of a deal this is.
Identify the skills you need to sharpen and the skills you can outsource. Outsourcing is all about time-management. You may think of yourself as a superman or superwoman, but there are limits to your powers. Outsourcing certain less essential tasks gives you more time to focus on the things that are absolutely essential to your craft.
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.
Establish expectations for appropriate behavior. Make it clear that you expect your children to avoid foul language, have dinner at the dinner table, and to maintain a positive attitude when possible. Repeating these rules and others early and often will show your children that you have clear rules for what is and is not acceptable in your home.
While communication skills are important for everyone, leaders and managers perhaps need them even more. These skills are general interpersonal skills, not specific to leadership, but successful leaders tend to show high levels of skill when communicating.
You are less effective as a manager if you are over-stressed. You are less tolerant. You snap at people more. No one wants to be anywhere near you. Take a break. Give yourself a chance to relax and recharge your batteries.
Job performance generally refers to behavior that is expected to contribute to organizational success (Campbell, 1990). Campbell identified a number of specific types of performance dimensions; leadership was one of the dimensions that he identified. There is no consistent, overall definition of leadership performance (Yukl, 2006). Many distinct conceptualizations are often lumped together under the umbrella of leadership performance, including outcomes such as leader effectiveness, leader advancement, and leader emergence (Kaiser et al., 2008). For instance, leadership performance may be used to refer to the career success of the individual leader, performance of the group or organization, or even leader emergence. Each of these measures can be considered conceptually distinct. While these aspects may be related, they are different outcomes and their inclusion should depend on the applied or research focus.
What also emerged from the research was the damaging effect of operating in a constrained environment. Where people lacked either the time or the resources, then generally the first thing to be sacrificed was a focus on purpose and ethics.
Magnanimity means giving credit where it is due. A magnanimous leader ensures that credit for successes is spread as widely as possible throughout the company. Conversely, a good leader takes personal responsibility for failures. This sort of reverse magnanimity helps other people feel good about themselves and draws the team closer together. To spread the fame and take the blame is a hallmark of effective leadership.
People also struggle with the concept of how being a leader is from being a manager. You may have heard the idea that ‘leaders do the right thing, and managers do things right’. This is a fairly delicate distinction, and many leaders are also managers (and vice versa). Perhaps the key difference is that leaders are expected to create and communicate a compelling vision, often associated with change. Managers, on the other hand, are perhaps more often associated with maintaining the status quo.
With just a little bit of planning, you can avoid the problems of an overwhelmingly large team. Instead, you’ll have leaders who have been incrementally prepared to help you right when you need help the most.
The democratic leadership style consists of the leader sharing the decision-making abilities with group members by promoting the interests of the group members and by practicing social equality. This has also been called shared leadership.
The neo-emergent leadership theory (from the Oxford school of leadership) sees leadership as created through the emergence of information by the leader or other stakeholders, not through the true actions of the leader himself. In other words, the reproduction of information or stories form the basis of the perception of leadership by the majority. It is well known[by whom?] that the naval hero Lord Nelson often wrote his own versions of battles he was involved in, so that when he arrived home in England he would receive a true hero’s welcome. In modern society, the press, blogs and other sources report their own views of leaders, which may be based on reality, but may also be based on a political command, a payment, or an inherent interest of the author, media, or leader. Therefore, one can argue that the perception of all leaders is created and in fact does not reflect their true leadership qualities at all.
Who comes to mind when you think of great leaders? Dynasty’s formidable business woman, Alexis Colby, originally inspired me to pursue my dreams and set up my own company. Yet, we all know it takes more than flashy hats, big hair and a kick-ass attitude to successfully lead a team in the real world.