If you’re merely a ordinary leader then it’s likely you make ordinary mistakes. They are easy to make, that’s the bad news. The good news is that they are also easy to avoid. As in so many areas of life, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just that little extra.
Here are a few “extras” to help you become an extraordinary leader.
If things are more important to you than people then you will always have severe problems getting commitment from your people.
It feels like I’ve said this a million times but I’ll say it yet again; leadership is about people. If you’re a leader then it is absolutely essential you understand that you lead people, not buildings, budgets, processes, or plans. You manage all that, but you lead people.
If your people feel, even a little bit, like they are merely the objects you use to build your own success then they will not commit to your or your organization. That’s why it’s so incredibly vital that you SHOW them how important they are as people. Not only as employees, not only as “team members” but as individual people. This is a daily must do for anyone serious about truly leading.
Do not allow yourself to become isolated by people close to you.
The higher up the leadership ladder you go the more likely it becomes that people will try to please you. They may want to please you so much that they “hide” unpleasant information from you.
This did in John Akers at IBM. He was one of the most respected CEOs in the industry but was blinded by people who told him only what he wanted to hear. He literally didn’t see IBM’s near-downfall coming and became the first CEO that IBM ever fired.
You obviously need people on your team who will tell you the truth but nothing beats unfiltered direct information. That big desk you sit behind can block a lot of what you need to know from ever reaching you. Get out from behind the desk and purposely explore your organization.
See firsthand what’s going on. Talk to the people, your people, who are making it happen. Talk to some customers, both happy and unhappy ones. You may not be able to invest a ton of time doing this but you must invest some. Frequently!
Select People for Loyalty, Not Competence.
No, no, no. I’m NOT suggesting that you hire incompetent people. I’m just saying you should value those who can demonstrate loyalty and team-playing over those who are more competent but possess huge egos and don’t play well with others.
Big egos build big silos that can cripple your organization. They can lead to the inability of even the smartest people to work together. You may say some of this is normal “competition,” which pits employees against each other, but a lot of it happens when being smart seems to be rewarded more than playing well with others. The end result: A lot of smart backstabbers.
That’s not a culture that you can afford to promote, you need people to have each other’s back, not be sticking something in it. So encourage and reward loyalty, to you, the organization and most importantly, to each other.