August 2013

It’s rare to find anything new in the area of employee-leader relations. Effective leaders know the value of establishing trust, setting rigorous and tangible goals, reflecting on and refining practices and procedures, and keeping communication lines open. Here are seven other important considerations that will take your organization to the next level.

Grow Your People. Make professional development a priority. Model personal and professional growth. Never tire of developing your team and yourself.

Make Your Communication Count. Use your words and your energy to inspire, support, and lead through ordinary and extraordinary conditions. Regularly check for understanding. Build consensus related to the standards and expectations in your field. Make good on your promises. This modeling will naturally encourage and teach your people to do the same.

Make Work a Learning / Doing Place. With each new project, with each new employee, by staying on top of trends and advancements in your field, make every day a time to learn. Learning will keep your people interested and curious. Knowledge is power. Share it through coaching, consulting, collaborating, and mentoring. Helping others will grow your leadership at all levels. Day in and day out, encourage problem solving, creative thinking, and structured growth.

Grow a Successor. Surround yourself with talent and skills. Encourage and grow these individuals. Such support will elicit loyalty and make your business excel. Choose a small group of individuals who have demonstrated their strong values, their sincere commitment to the organization, and wisdom beyond their years. Chose wisely and nurture these future leaders. Assume it is from this group that you will someday cull your successor. Begin planning now for your successful handoff.

Model Integrity, Relationship-building, and Commitment to Your People. Have real and honest conversations with your people. Listen. Be honest. Follow through. Be trustworthy, and expect the same of your people. Communicate in ways that demonstrate your sincerity. Care about your people. Grow their opportunities. Encourage their career development. Respect their values. Commitment to your people will lead to impressive interpersonal as well as organizational results.

Know Your Employees and What They Do. Leaders are knowledgeable about their employees’ performance, which builds considerable trust and respect. Most would say that this is a “no-brainer,” yet, on average, only 30% percent of employees report that their managers communicate performance standards and provide fair and accurate feedback to help them do their jobs better.

Give Strengths-based, Specific and Timely Feedback. Make feedback timely, specific, POSITIVE, and based on mutually-accepted goals and objectives. Keep feedback respectful, related, and reasonable. Look for strengths in your people. Address performance gaps as opportunities to grow your organization (e.g., “we need your help to strengthen the team in these specific ways,” rather than “you messed up and need to improve in this area”). Recognize and celebrate strengths and successes as essential links in your organizational chain.

These seven qualities should be due diligence for all leaders. Practiced regularly, they will grow your people, your organization, and yourself. You know you have the heart and mind to establish a core culture of integrity and success, a place from where you will no longer have to lead only by command. With these seven qualities, you will enjoy your people instead of control them, nurture a highly-productive environment rather than clean up after mistakes, discover the many hidden talents and potential in your future leaders through ongoing dialogue, and realize breakthrough improvements in manager-employee relationships and on-the-job results.