A leader cannot do it all, and the good ones know this. Instead, they surround themselves with teams of people who are strongest where they are weakest and they ask for advice from others. They identify those who can help them the most, develop relationships with them, and put energy into keeping those relationships. Leaders can also set up a mentor relationship with people they look up to. One of the ways leaders compensate for their weaknesses is through cooperation with others and putting together winning teams. To put together winning teams, leaders should follow seven tips:
- Leaders who win surround themselves with people who are stronger and better than they are.
- In the beginning of building a team, the entire focus has to be on development and training.
- Great leaders always get the facts, never assume, and plan a course of strategy in case things go wrong.
- The right assignments are given to the right people.
- Those who are unable to make a positive contribution must be let go.
- Communication needs to be open so that the team can access it from anywhere.
- Everyone on the team needs to commit to excellence.
Leaders need to communicate clearly because 85 percent of their success depends on it. The point of leadership is power and influence which happens through communication. In a truly successful company, all employees understand what they are trying to accomplish and what the plan is for the future. It is important that people like, respect, and value their leaders because they are more apt to listen to leaders they respect and value. Leaders should be able to persuade others to see their point of view and change their minds. Part of communication is listening, and great leaders pay just as much attention to what is not being said as they do to what is said.
In order for individuals to become leaders, they must have people to lead. To do this, leaders must commit to winning. People want to follow someone who will lead them to victory — and victory is the main task of leadership. Great military leaders are excellent role models because their one goal is victory as well. Military strategy can lead to success in any field and is comprised of seven main principles:
- The Principle of the Objective means that the goals of the company must be clear to every employee — there can be no confusion.
- The Principle of the Offensive states that leaders never sit back and wait for something to happen, but instead take control.
- The Principle of the Mass means that the best people and resources are focused on the area on which the company is most likely to win.
- The Principle of Maneuver translates to being flexible and creative.
- The Principle of Intelligence states that leaders gather all the facts and information before they make a decision.
- The Principle of Concerted Action means that everyone on the team has the same goals and same values.
- The Principle of Unity of Command states that there is one leader who is ultimately responsible.
Most people work at only 40 to 50 percent of their capacity, and leaders have to be able to push them beyond their usual performance and get the best out of them. To do this, they have to find out what motivates their employees. There are six specific motivational factors that can turn an average employee into an exceptional one:
- Employees need to be challenged and find interest in their work. A great leader finds work that keeps their employees engaged.
- Employees appreciate open communication and they like to understand how the work they are doing fits the company’s mission. Leaders should explain to employees how their roles affect the company.
- Employees are more likely to take an interest in their tasks when yhey are given responsibility and held accountable.
- Employees want the opportunity to advance and learn more.
- Employees are somewhat motivated by money.
- Working conditions are also important.
Employees also have three emotional needs — dependence,independence, and interdependence. If all of these are met, employees will stay motivated and inspired.
Leaders must also be able to delegate tasks to their employees not only because it gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility, but also because it frees up the leaders to concentrate on high-value tasks. However, it is crucial that the right employees are given the right tasks — their abilities must match the responsibility of the task. If tasks are delegated to the wrong people, it will lead to failure.
Leaders also motivate and inspire by example. Leaders can accept nothing less than the best from themselves and the companies they work for. They must commit 100 percent of themselves to their work. The more excited and enthusiastic leaders are the more excited and enthusiastic their employees will be. Through constant encouragement, leaders empower their employees.
How leaders see the world is based on these factors:
- Concepts and categories: They need to keep tabs on the ideas and innovations that are happening around them, and they need to know which ones they should pay attention to as they look for ideas that will work for their companies.
- Beliefs: How leaders think things work and the assumptions they have about what kinds of actions will lead to certain results play a big part in their decision making.
- Values: Great leaders have a handle on good versus bad.
- Self-image: Leaders who are self-aware are able to predict how people will react to what they say and do.
Great leaders are able to put a story together that will bring a company where it needs to go. This story is bolstered by the leaders’ years of experience, world view, and personal story. It is built upon multiple frames and it may evolve with tweaks along the way, based on where the company is at the time and what will work best for it.
Behind all the structures and policies are the symbols that are placed on organizations. Symbols come together to form the corporate culture, that “way of doing things” that drives a team. They may be the values that employees hold dear or the meaning that keeps them going back to work every day.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz brought a cultural revival to the company after visiting many of the stores around 2007. The Starbucks culture and experience had changed after the company began using new espresso machines that blocked the customers’ view of the baristas. This and other changes commoditized the Starbucks experience and made the company feel less like a local coffee shop. In a memo Schultz wrote, “We desperately need to get back to the core and make the changes necessary to evoke the heritage, the tradition, and the passion that we all have for the true Starbucks Experience.”
Such a rallying cry was symbolic but had a practical effect as the company adopted a new strategy and had a reenergized workforce. The company had been in a two-year decline, but began to earn record revenues and profits after this new vision was implemented. Employees want a bit of magic in their leaders, who can bring forth the company’s sprit and values as Schultz was able to do.
Many people work for managers who do not seem to see them or understand them. These managers do not seem to realize how they come across, and they often get tangled in hypocritical statements. They are the leaders who get ignored and see their projects stall.
These leaders suffer from personal blindness. How leaders view themselves matters much less than how others view them. They need to understand others’ perceptions of them if they want to move everyone forward. They can be more self-aware by taking the following actions:*Ask and receive: People will open up if they are asked, but the questions should be specific to get the desired information. “What was the best part of my speech?” and “What could I have done better?” will result in more fruitful answers than “What did you think of my presentation?”
*Give gratitude: By thanking people who provide feedback, leaders will be more likely to get information the next time they ask.
*Ask before giving: Some people will be suspicious of someone who is asking for feedback, so managers may need to ease into the topic and feel out potential reviewers.
There is no one best way to organize a company. The strategy, rules, policies, and controls should vary from company to company and may even vary from store to store. One example of this is McDonald’s, which is able to turn around food quickly and consistently across its many franchises because the company has a tight structure. That structure slipped in the 1990s, when the company stopped using inspectors to grade its restaurants on service, food, and ambience. Customers noticed–they wanted their Big Mac to taste the same no matter which McDonald’s they patronized. The company eventually brought back the inspectors (centralizing quality control), but it also allowed for tweaks in the menu by franchisees, so customers could eat McDonald’s breakfast porridge in England, for example, and McDonald’s veggie burgers in India.
However, other organizations find a looser structure is needed to be successful. The structure should fit the situation. Managers have these six basic options to choose from:
- Functional groups based on their knowledge or skills: This usually works best for academic settings, researchers, and engineering groups.
- Units based on time: Such as day versus night shifts.
- Groups organized by product: A tech company may split up its employees by those who work on smart phones versus those who work on tablets.
- Departments based on the client needs: Hospitals, for example, are broken up by the patients they serve (pediatrics vs. intensive care).
- Groupings around place: Global organizations may operate differently from country to country.
- Units divided by process: If a product or service has various steps, this setup may make the most sense.
The “right” answer for any one organization should be based on what works for the people within it and its purposes.
Leaders need support from others on a variety of levels to succeed. These kinds of supporters fall into three categories:
- Wizards are people who can offer leaders useful insights, approaches, and processes. Wizards are frequently mentors, consultants, or coaches. Wizards are often attracted to specific leaders because they want to help worthy causes or assist those they think are good leaders. The quality of generosity is one that commonly attracts wizards to specific leaders.
- Well-wishers are people who support others through both words and actions. Frequently, well-wishers are spouses, family members, or friends. Leaders can count on well-wishers to acknowledge their strengths, help them become their best, and accept them as the people they are.
- Wild cards are the least predictable kind of support as they simply turn up, or are recognized, at opportune moments. Wild cards are people who can provide needed tools or skills. Leaders who are clear about what they need to accomplish their goals are in a better position to recognize potential wild cards and take advantage of what they have to offer.
Of all the attributes leaders need, trustworthiness may be the most important. Followers will not commit to leaders they cannot trust. In a work situation, if there is no trust, the boss is just a boss, not a leader. When people do not trust their bosses they often find other jobs, and those who stay often do so grudgingly.
Leaders demonstrate their trustworthiness through five kinds of behaviors:
- They tell the truth as they understand it–they do not simply agree with two people with conflicting opinions just to keep the peace. Most lies eventually come to the surface, so trustworthy leaders stick to the truth and do not shade the facts to make themselves look better or to avoid difficult situations.
- They do what they promise. If a situation arises where leaders cannot follow through with their promises, they need to explain to their team members what has happened and what they plan to do about it. They must think carefully about how failing to keep a promise will affect certain people.
- They keep confidences to themselves. Trustworthy leaders know sharing confidential information is hurtful and unprofessional.
- They speak and act for the greater good. Sometimes this requires leaders to be tough to bring about changes they believe will benefit their organizations in the long run. In such cases, trustworthy leaders explain what they are doing and why.
- They are capable and get results. While the other four behaviors reflect aspects of leaders’ characters, the fifth reflects their competence to do their jobs. Leaders who are lacking in the skills and capabilities required for their jobs should put effort into building their capabilities through training or coaching. When it comes to results, leaders should be careful never to promise more than they are certain they can deliver.
Business leaders can be generous by sharing the success of their companies materially in the form of raises or bonuses, but there are many other ways to be generous. Followers appreciate it when leaders share credit, knowledge, and power, for instance. Being generous in attitude, by assuming that people act with positive intent, also creates a positive atmosphere in the workplace, making followers feel good and motivating them to do their best work.
Sharing power and authority by delegating responsibility is difficult for many managers. Delegation requires more than assigning tasks; it involves giving employees responsibility for certain segments of work. Andersen outlines a three-step process for delegation:
- Preparation: The manager defines the area of responsibility to be handed off and how much autonomy the employee will have.
- Discussion and agreement: The manager and employee reach an understanding of how the hand-off will take place. To help an employee develop new skills, a manager can designate different areas of responsibility in which he or she has higher or lower confidence of the employee’s ability to perform. The manager can require different levels of reporting for the high-confidence and low-confidence areas.
- Support: The manager gives the employee feedback. As the worker demonstrates more skill, the manager will hand over more responsibility or reduce oversight for those areas.
Generous leaders hand out praise, credit, positive feedback, and rewards to make employees feel valued and to inspire them to work harder. They also ensure that employees have the resources they need to do their jobs properly, including training, technology, and a safe place to work.