Austin M James
If you want to be a great leader, entrepreneur, spouse, parent, or even employee then this is for you. I've worked with over 200 leaders and discovered there are leaders by trait, and leaders by title. If you want people to naturally follow you, companies to notice you, and your children to look up to you, this is who you need to be and what you need to teach. These are the characteristics of a Leader by Trait.
1. YOUR WHY
This is something that almost everyone struggles with. Leaders are great hustlers, but also put quality as a top priority. If you run a company, don't half-ass anything, and don't let your employees either. If you are a business owner, you want your employees to know you are a quality name to trust. People will always pay high for high quality, don't assume the customer won't or that you'll lose business. There is the unavoidable business triangle theory that states you can have two of three things; speed, low cost, and high quality. For example, if you choose speed and cost, then you will have a product made quick and for dirt cheap, but the quality will be terrible. Always have quality as one of the two options and you will go farther with a better reputation. Word of mouth is powerful and you don't want to be on the negative side of it. The worst thing people can say about your product is "You get what you pay for".
3. DESIRE TO HELP OTHERS
You must have a natural and unselfish desire to help other people succeed in their own lives. When you start to have a natural desire to help others succeed in their lives not relevant to yours, then people that are relevant will start to gravitate towards you in flocks. Provide value to others, and people will see you as valuable. If you don't provide value, you are seen as worthless. It's a reality all leaders must face. If you've ever worked for someone who was genuinely interested in what you wanted in life and also wanted to help you achieve it, then you know how powerful this is. You probably talked about them, built up their reputation, and created a positive domino effect for them without even knowing it.
Do what you say you will do. As a leader, people will trust you more if you always follow through on what you say. Even as a parent, your kids will listen and respect you more if you follow through on everything. If you say "If you do ____ one more time... I'm going to _____", then you better be prepared to do it. If not, then you teach your employees (and kids) it's fine to lie when emotions are high here. They will be less likely to take you seriously when you say similar threats, and they will keep pushing the bounds until there are none. Show up on time or early, keep your appointments, follow up when you say you will, and always do what you say.
5. LET GO
You need to be able to let go and be able to deal with change. Great leaders are always challenging the status quo. Here are some key areas that you will need to focus on if you want to improve your game and be able to focus on what is important.
You'll need to let go of your ego. Find a way to humble yourself once a day. It might be picking up trash around the office, or it might be helping someone put groceries into their car that you don't know. Find a way to humble yourself once a day, and you will grow as a leader.
One of the sayings that kills me is, "If it's not broken, don't fix it". The original concept may have been great at the time when asking a 12 year old to stop taking apart the 10 channel TV, but this is a dead concept in today's world. The meaning of it has evolved into a "If it's not broken, don't try to improve it". If you are not constantly working to improve your product, then you are stagnant. If you aren't constantly searching for ways to be more efficient, then you'll always be doing what you do and you'll never be able to move up. Fix that which is broken, and improve that which is not.
Yesterday was in the past, it's time to look at today and move forward. If you can't let go of your past or you keep dwelling on it, then you will always be a day behind. People are quick to forget and they hate being reminded. Every day is a new day, and if you moved 10 tons of rock yesterday, then don't expect praise for it today. Pick up a shovel and get to it. Like everything else, this also applies to home life. Ask your spouse what they think you did to help out the day before and see how short that list is. Do the same for yourself. Work for today and for your future, but never assume yesterday makes up for today. Those who focus on today are rewarded every day. Those who focus on the efforts of yesterday are never rewarded because yesterday never comes.
6. PROVIDE SOLUTIONS & ACCOUNTABILITY
Focus on the solution, not the problem. And always ask yourself how you can be the fix. By doing so, you not only save time in the future, but you also learn something new and you grow as a leader that can troubleshoot his own problems. The more you train yourself, the easier it will become and the less times you will need to do it.
If you have a big problem, look for the solution first and ask yourself what you could have done to avoid this. At first glance, the problem seems out of your hands, but think hard and you'll discover that you had (or didn't) have your hands on it at some point and that helped with the problem. Admit your fault to the people that need to fix it. When people see humbled leaders be accountable to problems that aren't their own, they will become more accountable to their own work as well. (Same goes for family life and kids.)
For many things, it takes the same amount of time to google the answer yourself as it does to draft up an email and shoot it over to an employee to figure it out for you. Realistically, what would you think of yourself if you got that email? If it can be googled quickly, don't ask someone else.
If I were to take a poll of the top 100 companies in the country and ask them what their biggest problem is, they would all say the same thing... "Communication". Communication is key in every business and upper management will let you know that it is key. What everyone (including upper management) is guilty of, is poor communication.
Communication is funny because when someone is accused of not communicating, it's also a slap in the face of the person saying it. Communication is everyone's job. If upper management doesn't communicate, then you need to communicate to upper management. Likewise, if your employees are communicating, then you need to communicate to them. Start opening up the communication channel. The wider the channel gets, the more you'll start to hear.
When you don't communicate, corners get cut, illegal things happen, and there is zero accountability. Many times it just requires a "What's on today's plate", or a quick morning meetup to discuss what is going on that day. Create a daily agenda. If you want a smooth operation (work or house) let the whole team know exactly what is going on, and request any updates that may have not been communicated yet.
8. Be a Steward
As a leader you should always be available to your team. Don't micromanage (a trait of a poor leader), but feel free to get hands-on when needed. Strive to make the environment better for everyone. You if you are a leader by trait and not by title, you are a mentor and coach.
Your goal should be to develop new leaders. When you develop leaders, you become a better leader, and your company grows. Your employees, children, and spouse will become more successful in everything they do when they have a leader who genuinely takes interest in their success and works hard to provide solutions, road-maps, and goals for them.
Write down your thoughts, leave comments, or send me a message on facebook/linkedin. Thanks for reading, I hope this helps you and improves your personal and business life!