Leadership 101

The world is jam-packed with articles and books on the subject of leadership; so much so that, rather than shed light on the topic, the issue of what constitutes good leadership has been made unnecessarily complicated. Here is what I think you need to know and do to function as an effective leader:

1. Hire and promote smart. Look for attitude rather than skill sets. You can always train in the skills, but you can’t always make someone care who doesn’t.

2. Set the expectations and boundaries. Let your staff know what is expected of them and how large their playing field is.

3. Support the heck out of them. Train, provide, encourage, correct, forgive, defend, recognize and nurture your staff. They need to know you care.

4. Get out of the way. Your job is to let them know which cat needs skinning, not how to skin it.

I am not about to say “There you go. It’s as simple as that!”, because nothing is that simple.There are land mines within each of the above categories that can alter your best intentions, such as; 1. HR may have more control over the hiring process than you, 2. wishy-washy organizational goals can make departmental expectations irrelevant, 3. budget dollars may prevent you from adequately providing for your staff and, finally, people above you may like micro-managing people below you. Thankfully, all of these and other similar obstacles have solutions.

It has been said that leadership is nothing more than getting people to do what you want them to do. While that may be true, good leadership would be getting them to do what you want them to do without them knowing it. A better leader would get his people to do what he wants them to do and, afterwards, they would think it was their idea. But the true leader will have his people doing what needs to be done, knowing confidently that it was their idea. Getting to this level of leadership requires mastering the above four leadership essentials.