You can’t expect people to see you as a leader just because you have the fancy title on your business card. You have to be intentional in developing the trust and respect of those who work with you. You have to take deliberate actions for others to follow your vision and direction. Here are some tips to help:
1. Communicate Your Mission
Talk about the vision and the values of your company every time you get a chance. Review your core values in staff meetings. Remind your team members why they want to work with you. Give employees a reason to come into the office—besides a paycheck.
2. Guard the Culture
What’s your company’s reputation? Is it a fun place to work? Is it a place where people are fearful of your leadership style? With my voice (think Darth Vader with a cold) and my build (think linebacker), I understand how people can be intimidated by me. You need to have a similar awareness. You need to get your finger on the pulse of your business and find out what your employees like (or dislike) about your leadership and the overall culture. That’s even more important as your company grows and you can’t interact with every team member one on one.
3. Give Constructive and Useful Feedback
Make sure you’re helping people get better, and not just leaving a wound. Give them ways to correct poor behavior. Show appreciation for hard work. Say thank you. Write notes of gratitude. Take people to lunch. Tell them, “Great job!” In the hustle and bustle, we as leaders sometimes forget the small things and miss out on opportunities to really connect with our people.
4. Remember, They Work With You, Not for You
Think about that. “For” communicates ownership; “with” says team. You don’t own anybody! That’s important to remember because a lot of people get caught up in the power and control game, and nothing good happens when you do that. When you treat people with respect, whether they’re the janitor or the junior partner, you’re earning their loyalty.
5. Take Responsibility for Mistakes
It’s easy to be a leader when everything goes great. The true mark of a leader is admitting failure. When you say, “Yep, I messed up.” and then figure out a way to fix it, you earn the respect of your peers and team members. People follow authentic leaders.
6. Stretch Your Comfort Zone
Seven simple words can undermine your leadership: “We’ve never done it that way before.” So what? Great leaders chase new ideas. You won’t make progress if you don’t keep moving forward. Challenge yourself to take that next step—even if it’s uncomfortable.
7. Act Rather Than React and Think Before You Speak
Someone once said, “Thinking before acting is wisdom, but acting before thinking is regret.” No great leader ever said that the secret of their success was flying off the handle or saying the first thing that popped into their head!
8. Focus on What Matters Most
Stop trying to do this and that. Take some stuff off your plate. List all the things you think you need to do. Then delegate what you can and get rid of the junk that doesn’t lead to progress. Don’t let the small stuff hijack your priorities.
9. Be Aware of Your Influence
Your team members will feed off of your emotions and outlook. If you’re constantly worried and talking about the bottom line, some of your team may panic about their job security. If you show confidence, your team will pick up on that. If you’re willing to take chances, they’ll feel more freedom to follow your lead. That’s when the real fun begins!
Leadership doesn’t just happen with a snap of your fingers. It happens every day when you take intentional steps that push you and your business to the next level. Know where you want to take your business, keep going in that direction no matter what, and take your team along with you. That’s intentional leadership!