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(7) Leaders must be willing to show their employees that they love and care for them.
There is one truth in life that I firmly believe: With showing of love and concern, people begin to feel wonderful and more worthy, and their productivity will triple in an environment that is loving. The book “Love is Killer App” by Tim Sanders focuses on what it takes to create a true “Love Biz” by giving and showing of compassion, resources, and knowledge without expectation of anything in return. People will do business with people they like, and this “Love Cat” way of doing business often strikes an uncomfortable chord with leaders who are insecure about their own abilities or who view a show of love, empathy, and compassion as a sign of weakness. People have to know on a very deep level that their leaders care about them, their future, and their growth. With this loving approach to leading, talent in organizations will grow, and a sense of self confidence and commitment will inspire individuals at every level of company.
(8) Leaders must be willing to listen to grapevine and then build a sense of community based on what he/she hears in grapevine.
One of my favorite leaders in my local community is Dan Landis, Director of Sales and Marketing for St. Joseph of Pines, a life care community in North Carolina. He is one leader who I see as truly being bold…he actively places himself every day in middle of firing line. He spends much of his day talking to residents, sitting down and eating lunch with them, and stopping them in hall to simply ask “How are you…What can I do for you today? What are problems you are having? How can I help? ” He does not stop with residents. He goes on to exercise this same approach with employees of St. Joseph of Pines. Dan is a leader who is developing a very deep understanding of collective issues and desires of customers of St. Joseph of Pines…both employees and residents. He is building a sense of community based on shared values, and he is taking people to places they have never been before. Not only does he listen…he acts, bringing quick solutions to problems he hears and desires he knows are in hearts of people he leads.
Every company has a grapevine, and it is not uncommon for companies to have a grapevine that spreads negative messages, complaints, and rumors. These messages and rumors can seriously undermine morale of any company. Leaders must be willing to do as Dan Landis does…listen to grapevine, and use it as a feedback mechanism to highlight key issues that customers and employees consider relevant enough to whisper about at water fountain and in community. Leaders can also use grapevine to monitor which employees and customers are more likely to pass information along, so that impact of grapevine can be reduced.
(9) Leaders must be devoted to continuous improvement.
Leadership development is mandatory for CEOs and Executive Team, but it is also a necessary part of training for every person in organization. So many business leaders of today see leadership development as "fluff" and “soft” but truth of matter is that leadership development can improve bottom line profits and productivity. By listening to an employee who is on front line, and acknowledging her value, a leader can create loyal internal customers and can bring innovative ideas to table which can grow a company by leaps and bounds. By strengthening team communication, a leader can create a sense of purpose, loyalty, and long-term commitment to organization. One thing to know about leadership development is this: Leaders must not ask her followers to do what she is not willing to do. . Many leaders will hire training for their company and will then refuse to attend training because they “don’t need it or think they are beyond it.” This is, in my opinion, completely out of integrity. The leader must first be a model of what is expected in area of training, development, and improvement, and must be willing to fully participate in a training that front line is asked to attend. The leader must develop a culture that sends message that leadership development is not another undesirable task but a new and fresh way to go about work.
(10) Leaders must have a plan.
The late Christopher Reeve once said “If you don’t have a vision, nothing happens.” Strategic planning is about future impact of decisions made today, and leaders must have a plan that examines necessities of today and tomorrow in light of organization’s vision, mission, values and goals. It is not uncommon to find organizations that either don’t have a strong strategic plan, or they have a plan that is sitting on a shelf collecting dust. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Leaders must realize that to fully implement change, to satisfy customers, and to promote teamwork from top to bottom of organization, strategic changes must be made that are driven by a clearly articulated vision, mission, and purpose. Once strategic plan is written, leaders can then take steps necessary to insure that all stakeholders are in alignment with strategic plan and that they are moving cohesively in direction of fulfilling vision and mission of company. Many organizations will buy a “canned strategic plan” written by an expensive consulting company, and they will try to fit their round peg in square hole of canned plan. This is a BIG MISTAKE! Leaders need to understand that strategic plan is a collaborative process implemented by key stakeholders in company, and CEO or Business Owner must be involved in this process. With a strong commitment and an experienced strategic planning coach or facilitator, a company can create a solid plan which meets needs and demands of all stakeholders.
Bea Fields is a Leadership Coach and Trainer and the President of Five Star Leader Coaching and Training. She is the Visionary Leader for the Personal Environments Community for www.CoachVille.com.