Leadership: Not Just Bossing People About
“In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people. They no longer can lead solely based on positional power”.
Today’s generation of employees are different from previous generations. Gone are the days when respect automatically came with the title of supervisor, or boss. Today you have to earn respect. And, if team members do not have respect for their leaders, they are prepared to shop around for a company, and leader, that suits them.
I see this as a positive sign. I would much rather have a team comprised of people that wanted to work with me, instead of a group of people who only stayed with me because I paid them.
Terry R. Bacon, in his book The Elements of Power: Lessons on Leadership and Influence, said:
You can be knowledgeable, eloquent, and attractive (in every respect), and have existing relationships with the people you are trying to influence, but if people perceive that your character is flawed, your power to lead or influence them will be greatly diminished. That’s why character is so important.
So how do you earn the respect of each team member?
If you want your people to respect you, show them respect. Listen to their suggestions, show interest in their lives, in the things that concern them. Help them however you can.
Conduct training sessions with your people – at all levels, from reception, administration, through to sales and Property Management.
Never send anybody to an external training session – go with them. This is important. If you do not attend training with your team, you send a message that training is beneath you, or that you are too busy to train. Set this example and you cannot blame your people for having the same disdain for training.
An untrained team is an incompetent team. Incompetence costs far more than training.
Whatever policies or culture you wish your team to adopt, you must lead the way by being consistent with those policies and cultures.
You must never say one thing and do another. This is hypocrisy and will lose respect almost as quickly as dishonesty.
At the Pittard Training Group we have a culture of never saying or doing anything that is not consistent with the contents of our manuals. We never advise our clients to do something in their businesses that we do not do in our business. Likewise, as individuals, our behaviour is consistent with our manuals. We treat this as an important part of our culture. Our team knows it, and as a group we demonstrate it internally, and externally, by the way we conduct our business.
Control your emotions
Let’s face it: sometimes my people do something stupid. But then again, so do I on occasions. I am not perfect and I don’t expect my people to be either.
As leaders, we must control our emotions. When someone on your team makes a mistake, being abusive does not solve the problem and, if you make a habit of it, creates even worse problems. If a team member confesses to a mistake and you react with abuse, your team eventually learns not to come to you with bad news. If the team covers its mistakes because it fears you, this is a recipe for disaster.
It is acceptable to say that you are angry, and that you never want to see this type of behaviour again, but then begin to work with the team member on a solution, and counsel the team member to ensure that the error does not recur.
Be scrupulously fair and honest
Some people are honest, right up until the point where money is involved, and then all bets are off. You cannot be this type of person.
For example: a seller expresses dissatisfaction with the way your salesperson handled the sale of her property. She believes that she should not have to pay the fee.
Before you get angry, or jump to the defence of your salesperson and deny the request, ask, “Does she have a point?” Ask yourself another question: “What is the right thing to do in this circumstance?”
Run it past an independent person if necessary, but do what is right and fair. Your team will respect you and will be happier knowing that they are working in a company that puts fairness above the almighty dollar.
Actions speak louder than words
Yes, it is a cliché, but it contains wisdom .
What a pity that many parents don’t realise this. They warn their children not to touch drugs, then go to the fridge and pour a huge glass of beer. Children watch what you do. So do your employees.
Your team watch you, and define your character in their minds, based on your actions. To quote Terry R. Bacon:
Whether or not you manage others, your character is a substantial part of your credibility as a human being and underlies all other sources of personal power. If you are a leader, your character is the core of the magnet that draws followers to you.
There is far more to leadership than ordering people about.
In the 21st century, your people work with you, not for you.