I have often heard it said that there are three types of leaders; those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. In working with hundreds of small to midsize businesses as CEO of Business Information Solutions over the past 15 years I would have to concur. Sadly, many of those are in the latter category of wondering what happened in most situations. This failure in leadership costs companies countless dollars each year in revenue, huge missed opportunities, droves of unsatisfied clients and multitudes of unhappy employees.
What is it that these leaders lack that keeps them from performing to their potential?
The Gallup Organization and Hay Group did a study that showed that 50% to 70% of how employees perceive their organization’s climate can be traced to the actions of their leaders. The study found the more positive the overall mood of the leaders, the better the company’s results. Another 25-year Gallop study based on interviews with 12 million workers at 7000 companies found that the relationship with the leader largely determine the length of an employee’s stay.
This data is challenging to myself and quite frankly not usually how the conversation goes when I speak with leaders about their team. Most leaders I speak with today are struggling with finding quality team members. So how is it that leadership can find better followship?
Below are five traits of an effective leader that will improve company culture, increase client satisfaction, add big numbers to the bottom line while creating a lasting organization.
An effective leader has a vision and communicates that vision clearly.
A strategic decision maker focuses on long-term strategies that will carry out the vision. It is important that everyone on the team knows where we are going, why we are going there, how we’re going to get there and most importantly how we’ll work together in order to get there. This requires an endless amount of communication; even to the point where the team pokes fun at the leader for repeating the same things over and over.
An effective leader realizes the “right” people are the most important assets – Talent Wins, Hire the Best!
This starts with the marketing of top talent. It continues with strategic interviewing, personality profiling, and meticulous onboarding. The new employee must understand the vision, mission, goals and core values of the company before moving on to understanding their responsibilities. If new team members understand the why completely the what will flow naturally. Conversely, if they are only focused on the what they will likely never understand the why.
An effective leader understands leadership is not power, but rather influence.
Organizational goals must always come before personal goals. A great leader is most effective when they have developed a team that understands why they do what they do and what needs to be done and then simply clears the way.
An effective leader must know what people want.
Managers think employees want good wages, job security, promotions and interesting work. Although these are all good things they often miss the mark. Studies have shown that employees really want appreciation, being part of the solution, proper training, good wages and a leader that is concerned with and willing to help with the employee’s challenges.
The most effective leaders don’t just create followers – They create more leaders!
A great leader must nurture the growth and development of other leaders at every level of the organization. In order for a company to perform over the long haul and must have a solid foundation of leaders being developed at every level. This enables a company to not only survive but thrive.
As a leader and entrepreneur it is of utmost importance to realize there is really not a shortage of good employees; but rather there is a shortage of inspirational leaders and inspiring places to work. Our goal must be to create these types of environments and wants that is accomplished many of the other challenges of business are supported by the strength of a great team.
Phillip D. Long