My favorite quote is from John Quincy Adams, who said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader." I get goosebumps every time I read it. What an incredible feeling it is to be a person who has that remarkable of an impact on someone else.
Leadership, to me, means helping people achieve their full potential while driving them towards the achievement of a shared vision and goals through inspiration and creating a culture where people can grow and thrive. But the secret sauce is in how to do that successfully.
I believe it’s done by leading with love and empathy. You have to recognize, appreciate and acknowledge the human side of your team; you have to see their strengths and value, even when they may not. They have to trust and believe in you, and you have to provide them with the comfort of knowing that they, too, should be authentic and true to themselves. We are all human, and we all experience ups and downs in our personal and professional lives.
It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to be operating at 100% continuously. It is okay for your team members (and you!) to not always be okay. As a leader, you are there to provide them with the support to help them through whatever challenges they may be facing. Team members are not a COG in the wheel of your business. They are your business. Without your team, you and your company are nothing. Solid leadership inspires empowerment, and empowered people yield great results!
Being a good manager isn’t easy. It takes hard work and a high degree of emotional intelligence, which is key to effectively understanding, communicating, and guiding your team, both in the good times and most importantly, through the challenging times.
Another important quality of being a good manager is mentorship. The most effective way to mentor and help your team members to improve and develop is through direct and timely feedback. They need to hear what they’re doing well clearly and concisely, but even more importantly, their areas for improvement.
Equally as important as giving feedback, you need to receive feedback. Good managers must regularly ask their team members for feedback. It can be intimidating for people to provide feedback “up,” but another reason why trust and strong relationships with your team members are so meaningful. Your team needs to know that you want and expect them to provide you with open and honest feedback about what you can improve upon, and there will be no negative repercussions.
Lastly, a good manager gets results. For managers to enact change and drive their organization forward, they must communicate expectations effectively, explain “the why” behind decisions, and delegate responsibility. A good leader can bring all of these components together and empower their team members to deliver their best work time and time again.
People see through facades. Showing your human side makes you more relatable and approachable, which is necessary for people to trust and believe in you. This is especially important when it comes to acquiring new talent. If you’re not authentic and true to yourself, it takes away from your ability to be an effective leader, and it’s noticeable to others.
Your team, and potential team members, must trust that you will do what is right and what is in the best interest of them and the business. With that said, we are only human, and we all make mistakes, but as leaders, we must own our mistakes. And to not erode the trust of your team, you must learn from those mistakes and commit to doing and being better moving forward.