Decidedly Different Leaders

“Your favorite leaders have been decidedly different. Their motives go beyond self-interest. They challenge you to pursue daring, bold aspirations that create an exciting place to work. They shun the spotlight in favor of serving a higher purpose. They evidence principles in their daily decisions. You not only love these leaders but also perform your very best work for them.”

-Cheryl Bachelder

Often times when you think of managing people or even being managed yourself, you probably start to remember the good, bad and the ugly experiences you have had. I have worked for plenty of ineffective managers. And unfortunately, these managers were far more interested in the bottom line than they were in me or my teammates. I think we can all agree nothing is more frustrating than busting your back each day for a manager who doesn’t care about you or your professional growth.

On the other hand, when I consider the effective managers I’ve had during my career, some important thoughts come to mind. I remember my manager’s ability to make me feel valued, cared for and important under their leadership. I remember being encouraged to work hard each day, knowing that my job was contributing to the overall success of the company. I remember when I would mess up, I wasn’t afraid to tell my manager the truth because I knew there would be honest feedback followed up with grace for the mistake made. I remember being celebrated for wins, birthdays and achievements. I remember always knowing my managers were available to coach me through my ridiculous requests and questions. These managers made a lasting impact on me.

Now that I am in a management position myself, I constantly feel the tension between running a profitable operation and intentionally leading my team. There are few things that get me more excited than punching numbers and driving business growth. However, I’ve realized that it isn’t the numbers that keep me coming back to work each day, it’s my team and the people I serve alongside. My ability to lead well results in a more committed, invested and effective team. In light of this great responsibility, these are the principles I use to guide my leadership:

  • Learn the art of asking vs. telling. No one likes being told to do anything. Ask your employees to complete tasks in a way that is encouraging rather than demeaning.
  • Don’t be afraid to own your mistakes.
  • Be a great listener and humbly accept feedback, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.
  • Take time to coach, inspire and develop your team both personally and professionally.
  • Spend time in the day-to-day operations with your team. Show them that you are not above doing any task.
  • Spontaneous words of encouragement and gifts (when appropriate) will go a long way!
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Let’s face it, work can be hard, stressful, and even mundane all in the same day. Find opportunities to have fun and celebrate each other.
  • Care for your team as if they are your own family.

Managers are positioned to serve their teams and to ensure they have the adequate supplies, training and support they need in order to do their jobs well.  But beyond that, I genuinely believe that we, as managers, must take the time to invest in our teams and boldly put their needs first. Leading with a servant mentality not only produces remarkable results but also leads to business growth and a strong purpose-driven culture. You have the opportunity to be a decidedly different leader. What are you waiting for?