Become a Leader of the Best
Microsoft founder, Bill Gates once said, “The worst thing about an average employee is not the mistakes he makes. The worst thing is that he is taking up space that could be occupied by someone phenomenal.” We couldn’t agree more with Mr. Gates.
Now before you go and fire all your “average” employees, keep in mind that as their manager, you have a responsibility to be the best leader you can possibly be. We all work in teams of people with different skills, talents, temperaments, motivations and experience. The people you manage won’t simply come together as a team by themselves. They require help.
So have you done everything you can for your employees to launch them to be phenomenal? Especially the ones you see as your “average” employees.
Be honest with yourself, take responsibility…and if your answer to the question above is “maybe not,” then become a Leader of the Best, excel your leadership potential by:
1. Leading by Example: Its human nature to do as we see. From the time we were crawling to running our own company most of us have learned by observing. So start developing your employees with the qualities you want them to have by demonstrating those qualities yourself. I expect my team to meet their deadlines AND at the same time I understand when things come up. So I ask only for constant “communication,” if an assignment is going to be late, then tell me and we’ll work something out. The way I demonstrate this same accountability as a leader is that I also commit resources and my time to my team and if for some reason I cannot follow through I always let them know ahead of time and we work it out.
2. Providing Direction and Goals: As a manager you will need to set a framework with clearly defined goals ensuring the team moves in the same direction. So think big. Your goals should be attainable, and they should also be a stretch. There should be multiple goals at any one time – so set daily, weekly and/or monthly measurements. I am careful to not only set big goals for the organization, but also set smaller goals for each person along the way to guide them down the right path.
3. Filling in Talent Gaps: Sometimes a good manager needs to “shake things up.” Look at your team make-up, are you using the talent of each individual to their maximum potential? Do you have strong individuals who should be moved to a different position? Or do you have people who given all opportunities still just don’t seem to improve? A few years back I had an employee, we’ll just call him “Scott.” No matter the hours I spent coaching Scott and the two sales trainings I sent him to he still flounder and things just didn’t seem to click. After 6 months as his manager I had to ask myself if I was making the best use of his talents? I decided at that point I did not have a position that really could utilize Scott’s strengths and I would need to re-hire this position to fill in the talent gap I was now faced with.
4. Taking Time to Coach: As a manager you should be taking time to coach and mentor your team. Great managers build up employees’ strengths and also stick beside them when they struggle through their weaknesses. As a manager I never see my team as they are, I only see the potential of what they could be. Each month I have one-on-ones with each person in my team as well as a quarterly review where we together evaluate their performance. In their quarterly review we spend 50% of the time discussing their future; new projects, new interests and new skills they wish to gain. This may seem like a lot of time, but I believe it is my job as their manager to make sure they are getting where they want to go.
5. Sharing Successes and RAP Frequently: I love this acronym! It stands for Recognize, Appreciate and Praise. Everyone wants to be recognized for their hard work. And even the most successful people in life who are self-motivated need boosts, and everyone –no matter how successful needs RAP once in awhile. Although similar, there’s a slight distinction between these three things:
Recognition = Awareness and approval of something we’ve done.
Appreciation = Thanks for doing it.
Praise = Praise for doing it exceptionally well.
As a manager I make it part of my job to give out weekly acknowledgments to my team. When I deliver RAP I always tell the person exactly what he/she did that I appreciated (specifics is key). I also try to take the time to RAP as soon as possible after an accomplishment. If you’re not sure when to RAP – it’s usually the times when you least want to give a RAP that a RAP is most needed right then.
So to be a Leader of the Best you must set the tone for your team. Stay positive. Lead by example. Fill in talent gaps. Motivate with RAP and challenge your team by setting goals. You are their manager. Your purpose is to bring out the best in each person on your team. And once you do that, you, your team and your company will thrive!
Contributed by Susie Japs, a successful Organization Development Strategist in San Diego, CA and the founder of Wejungo.com. Susie created the WejungoNetwork™ to build the capacity of entrepreneurs and small businesses through the sharing of knowledge and collaboration among individuals wishing to continually develop and uncover new possibilities for their business.