The most common question that my colleague Tony Scutella (Shifting Mindsets) and I field is related to what we feel people should be doing to become better leaders. The starting point for us is the concept that you manage tasks and lead people. Beyond that, we have developed the following list that should help to take any leader from good to great. Remember that it's a journey and develop the various skills that are required over time. 

We're convinced that great leaders are made, not born. One of the biggest failings in most organizations we see is the lack of attention that is given to leadership development. Great leaders improve employee engagement and productivity. They are effective and efficient in their approach to all of the elements that impact a business, but really get the fact that it's people that power the enterprise.

Start Right

When our clients bring new talent on board they use the great insights they uncovered using the McQuaig behavioral assessment to quickly help them to become fully acclimatized to your company’s culture and systems. We have found that the sooner they settle, the sooner you can start to reap rewards. It will help if you complete an induction that is based on how they assimilate information. Don’t forget to have them sign a detailed contract of employment, which outlines what you expect from them.

Create Expectations

Strange as it may sound, many employees do not have a clear sense of their role, or your expectations. Such confusion can cause disagreements, or even duplication or omission of tasks. This is clearly bad for productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. Your team needs to know their job and responsibilities; a job description will help but one of the fundamental roles of a leader is to establish what is required of each member of your team to contribute to the overall success of the organization. That means frequent communication.

Leaders are responsible for their team’s performance. This means that leaders must be convinced that the direction of their team fits with the organization’s strategic plan. Although it is useful to have creative sessions with team members to bat around ideas, the overarching goals that the team must fulfill are most often set by the leader, or some authority above the leader as part of the strategic planning process.

The challenge for every leader is to get the team “onside” with the given aims, even when some team members may wholeheartedly disagree with them, or baulk at the idea that these have been imposed on them from above. It’s wise to bear in mind that hierarchical or position power does nothing to engender employee engagement. Despite the accepted hierarchy of any workplace, for a team to work most efficiently, its members – especially higher level ones – may want to feel they are contributing more than just spade work; they may feel that they should have a say in the decisions that are made.

No organization can function for very long without the co-operation of its employees. Unfortunately, the necessity in any organization is that there are various levels of status within the team, and this can lead to conflicts if not managed properly.

The effective leader realizes that the team under them is there because they have to be. Most employees work to earn money, not because they enjoy the daily grind of a nine-to-five. For this reason, there must be an effort to build healthy relationships, or life in the workplace can become untenable for everyone, employee engagement will suffer and productivity will decline.

I asked my good friend Bob Lank (CEO Global Network) what he thought contributed to successful leadership.

Click on the image to see his response in this edition of 60 Seconds On Leadership.