What makes a good leader? If you ask ten people you may get ten different answers. Strength, compassion, confidence, intelligence, humility, passion, respect. A good leader will have a least a few of these traits but a great leader will have all of them and then some. Effective leadership comes from encompassing all of these characteristics and teaching your employees to do the same. In order to be an exceptional leader, there are a few leadership behaviors that you should practice.
Lead by Example
Being the leader of your company means you have to lead by example. This means leading by your actions, not just your words. As the saying goes, “Talk is cheap”.
Set the standard in your company for what it means to be a productive employee who is continuously trying to improve. Start with the little things. Show your employees the importance of punctuality by always showing up on time. Remember, showing up on time means being 15 minutes early. And if you expect a certain dress code out of your employees, show them what it is by dressing accordingly every single day. Most importantly, always be willing to lend a helping hand to your employees. A business is not an individual effort and you want to make sure your employees understand and appreciate the value of teamwork.
Even though you’re not at work 24/7, that does not mean you shouldn’t represent your company 24/7. You can still be who you are but make sure you take time to fully represent your company’s brand. This can be as simple as updating your social media profiles with information and content that pertains to what your company does. You are the leader of your company, so showing who you are should be the same thing as showing what your company is about.
Good communication is key to running a strong, efficient company. The most important thing to remember is that communication should not be a one-way street. The head of a company who communicates with their employee is a boss but one who communicates with their employees is a leader.
Communicating with your employees means having an open conversation. Talk with them. When you have good two-way communication with your employees, you start to understand them. When you understand your employees, you know how to work with them. People work in so many different ways. If you see that an employee is struggling, you may want to take them aside to speak privately. Try to understand what they’re struggling with and offer to help in any way that you can. The act of you taking time out of your day to have this conversation with them may be exactly what they needed.
Get to know all the people who work for you to understand what motivates them. If you do this, not only will you get the most productivity possible from your team, but you will have their respect as well.
It is difficult to follow a leader who can’t admit that they are wrong or that they need help. Show some humility as a leader. If you are having a moment of doubt, ask your team for help. Let them know that even you, their boss, need the help of the whole team. Seeing this will encourage all of your employees to seek help when they are unsure of something.
The quickest way to make a mistake is by not asking for help when you know you need it. Everyone has their strengths in certain areas but it is important to know what your weaknesses are so that you know when to ask for help. When you ask questions, you learn and when you learn, you become wiser.
Embracing failure as a leader means doing a few different things. First, when employees are struggling with a project or they get something wrong, do not lash out at them. Sure there are times when criticism is necessary, but not every mistake is deserving of a scolding. Be compassionate with your employees. Tell them it’s okay and work with them to try to resolve whatever the issue may be. Constructive criticism will help your employees learn but yelling at them will only discourage them from taking initiative in the future.
Second, know when to move on. Most projects will experience ups and downs. But if a project is showing no signs of success, it may be time to end it. Spending time on a project that is way beyond saving is a waste of time for your employees and your company as a whole. Know when to push forward and when to put something aside. Your team may not be ready for a certain project. Put it aside and come back to it when you feel confident that your team can pull it off.
Nothing will discourage your employees more than not acknowledging them for the success of your company. Using “We” instead of “I” when talking about the success of your company goes a long way. Your employees will see that you view your company’s success as a team effort.
Sharing success doesn’t just mean sharing the credit with your employees when your company does well. It also means that you, as the leader of your company, acknowledge the personal success of all of your employees. Nothing made me more proud than when Amanda Erdmann, our Director of Client Services, won the Jersey Shore Public Relations and Advertising Association’s “Best of the Best Under 40” award just one year after I received it myself. Seeing your employees succeed at that level motivates you to be an even better leader.
Founder of Creative Click Media, Adam Binder accepts an award with his team for Business of the Year from The Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce.
Hire for Potential & Personality
A lot of times when companies are going through the hiring process, they tend to focus a lot of time reviewing the applicant’s list of skills and experience. While this is obviously important, it is also important to get an understanding of who the applicant is as a person.
Here at Creative Click Media, we have a unique hiring questionnaire that asks the applicants to share a little bit about themselves. These questions give the applicant a chance to show us their personality, creativity, and passion. That’s where you can uncover someone’s potential. Skills and experience are clear as day on any resume but passion and work ethic will tell you the true character of an individual. Also, this allows us to see if they fit into our core values and if they will complement our existing staff well by filling gaps in our collective skill set.
“When looking for the perfect candidate, it’s important to look beyond the resume. Seriously consider their personality, the potential they possess and where their passion lies. Just because they have always worked in a particular field doesn’t mean they won’t excel in another.” – Bev Farrell, Project Manager
Our Project Manager, Bev, didn’t have much experience in our industry before we hired her but her personality fit so well with our team and we saw the potential for her to benefit our company. Now, Bev is one of the most important members of our team. As she said, her lack of industry experience did not hinder her ability to excel beyond expectations in her new position.
Part Ways When Things Aren’t Working Out
Firing employees is never easy. You work with the same colleagues every day and then you have to tell them they are out of a job. It is a tough responsibility but it must be done.
Working with the same people day in and day out, you start to build connections with them. You may really like an employee on a personal level and that can make it really hard to do what needs to be done for the good of the company. Understanding this is an essential element to continual growth.
When you are experiencing an employee who is underperforming, take a good look. Is there something that can be done to quickly turn things around? Or is the employee simply not qualified to be doing the work they’re doing? If so, it is in the best interest of both the company and the employee if you let them go. You would be doing the employee and your company a disservice by allowing him or her to remain in a position in which they are struggling to succeed.
Be an Active Listener
Listening is one of the most underrated skills of a great leader. But what does it mean to actively listen? We hear background noise throughout our day but does that mean we are listening to it?
Actively listening means that you are consciously trying to understand what is being said to you. Give your full attention to whoever is speaking to you and concentrate on the message that is being conveyed.
It is important to make the speaker know that you are giving them your full attention. You want them to feel that you are fully engaged and that you care about what they are telling you. Give the speaker affirmations by nodding along or saying “Yes”. Doing this shows the speaker you are paying attention and that you want them to continue.
When the person is done speaking, ask relevant questions to clarify the message they were trying to get across. This is good for two reasons: you will be sure you completely understand what the speaker was saying and the speaker will know you were listening intently.
Keep Meetings Short, Productive, and Fun
Team meetings are important for every business and how you run those meetings is even more important. When having a meeting in the office you want to make sure no time is wasted. This means starting the meeting on time no matter what. If someone is late, start anyway. It’s unfair to make the whole group waste valuable time because one person is running late.
Once the meeting has started, be sure to stay on track. There are plenty of distractions that can get you off track during a meeting. Know the goals of the meeting going in and stay focused on them the entire time.
If it is a brainstorming meeting that you are having, it may be a good idea to take it out of the office. Go outside if there is a nice outdoor area around your office. Luckily for us, our office is located right next to a beautiful lake. We like to take advantage of this by having brainstorming meetings on kayaks or stand-up paddleboards. Some of our greatest, most innovative ideas have been inspired by these meetings. We believe that everyone should find a way to do something similar. Use the change of scenery to generate inspiration among your team.
The Creative Click Media team takes some time out on the water for some fun to spark inspiration and creativity.
Always Be Learning
Being a leader doesn’t mean that you’ve learned everything there is to learn in your industry. Being a leader means never passing up the opportunity to learn and grow. Try not to become content in your position. That is how you fall behind. Keep improving, keep learning new skills.
When we’re young we often have mentors or role models that we look to for advice. That should not stop as you progress through your career. You’re never too old or too experienced to have a mentor. You may be the world’s expert in one area, but you could be the world’s least experienced person in another area. Find an area in which you struggle, then reach out to an expert in the area and seek their guidance. I like to surround myself with intelligent business-minded people and I’m never afraid to ask questions. Accepting that you don’t know everything and making an effort to learn every chance you get is the key to continuous growth throughout your career.
History repeats itself. It could be in a good way or it could be in a bad way. Either way, you have to learn from the past. Look at what other leaders in your industry have done throughout their careers. How can you learn from their experiences? And always be sure to examine yourself and your own history. All leaders will make mistakes. It’s great leaders who learn from their mistakes and strive to grow from them.
Effective Leadership is the Only Way to Succeed
Effective leadership is essential to the success of any company. As a leader, it is your responsibility to set a good example for your employees and be the standard for professionalism, work ethic, communication, and passion. A great leader acknowledges that he or she is not infallible and will collaborate with and learn from every person and opportunity that crosses their path. As a leader, be the inspiration that your employees use to strive for success.