(originally published in the Western Independent Bankers HR & Training Newsletter)
We’ve seen a rapid decline in leadership over the past few years. Whether it’s finding time to lead in the current workplace environment, or having fewer skilled and trained managers or simply the failure of people to step up and lead, the abdication of leadership in business today is both real and impactful.
In October, I had the opportunity to conduct a Leadership Master Class for 14 high-potential supervisors. Here are the lessons I’ve learned in 25 years of management that I hope they – and you – will remember.
- Never forget the best boss you ever had, and never forgot the reason why s/he’s the best boss you ever had.
- You are always on stage. People are watching you.
- No matter how good a communicator you think you are, your employees think you’re not communicating enough.
- The best way to improve your communication skills is by learning how to listen better.
- Your effectiveness as a manager and leader is determined by not by your IQ (Intelligence Quotient) but by your EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient)
- Have a plan to win. No one succeeds without a plan.
- The “One Size Fits All” theory of leadership went away 10 years ago. Focus on “One Size Fits One” strategy in dealing with people. They’ll appreciate and respect you for it.
- Treat everyone with respect, whether they deserve it or not.
- Be accountable and always give your best.
- The people who managed you in the past were probably using styles and techniques that are completely outdated in today’s workplace. It’s now about coaching, mentoring and inspiring.
- Employees look for leaders who have their backs and understand we’re all in it together. Are you that boss?
- If you’re doing performance reviews once or twice per year, that’s about 50 times too few. Talk to employees weekly about their positives and negatives.
- The toughest thing about being a leader is giving tough feedback. You can never change a culture unless you’re honest and direct. But compassionate and fair.
- Deal with problems – and problem employees – immediately. These things do not get better with age.
- Never forget where you came from. And be gracious with your title and authority.
- Spend 5 times as much time recruiting, interviewing and hiring as you currently do. And reduce by 5 times the amount of time it takes to get rid of a bad employee.
- There are lots of employers who regret keeping someone too long. There are very few who regret removing them too quickly.
- Our world has significantly, and structurally, changed due to technology. This isn’t a trend, it’s a permanent change that demands continual innovation. Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
- Are your employees happy and engaged? How do you know? People tend to tell you what they think you want to hear.
- Personally congratulate an employee who does a good job.
- Fifty percent of the reason an employee fails is because of their manager: letting things go on too long; not setting expectations; not providing immediate feedback; and failure to lead.
- When an employee quits, let them go. Gracefully. What goes around, comes around. This is the best time to be the best leader you can be. Remember, departing employees talk to staying employees.
- Resist every urge to communicate by text, email or instant message in favor of face-to-face communication. The decline of soft skills – especially the ability to write effectively – is the cause for more angst and potential lawsuits than any other reason.
- Do things because you should do them, not because you have to do them.
- The Golden Rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Remember, the person working for you today may be your boss tomorrow.
And two from one of my heroes, Michael Josephson:
- “You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow”. –
- What you allow, you encourage