What is a leader? A leader is a person who guides or inspires others. So, when I say the word “leader” what are some attributes that come to mind? I’ll tell you what enters my mind; words like involved, assertive, passionate, and proactive. The list goes on and on. You could add words like charismatic and energetic, too.
Now, let’s switch things up a bit. When you think of a good leader, what are some of the qualities they possess? Honesty, intelligence, confidence, and compassion are some of the things that come to mind. Let’s throw in sincerity, integrity, and empathy. To me, this is a pretty good start. I can look at all these words and think, ‘yeah, these are necessary qualities of a good leader.’ If you agree that these are all necessary ingredients for good leadership, and you’re not exhibiting these traits, then you’re failing as a leader!
Get Your Cape On
It really doesn’t matter if you’re the head of a 300-member company, or a supervisor with just three people on your team. As a leader, you’re supposed to be every one of these things, and more, every single day. To the extent that you are doing this, you’re doing a great job. To the extent that you’re not doing these things, however; you’re failing as a leader. And if you’re failing as a leader, guess what? Your team members can’t be everything you want them to be, and they can’t experience the kind of success they desire.
Several years ago, when I was putting together my first team at The Lampo Group, I decided it would be a good idea to meet monthly with my team members individually. Not just to go over figures and strategies, but to give them a chance to voice their opinions and tell me what kind of job I was doing as a leader. How bad could it be, right? Here’s how bad. The very first person I talked to told me, on no uncertain terms, that my communication skills stank. Talk about a shot straight to the ego! Without missing a beat she explained that I did a lousy job of communicating information on some projects. That, she explained pointedly, was my problem. I assumed that she and her teammates knew everything I knew. In the process, nothing was being communicated.
That was a tough thing to hear, but I’m the dummy who set the whole thing up. So, what do you think I did next? I didn’t fire that team member, and I didn’t hide in my office and pout. Okay, maybe I did for a little while. But what I really did was to begin studying and focusing on the communication aspects of being a good leader. Not only so my team would be better informed and do their jobs to the best of their abilities, but so I could grow as a leader and as a person.
Motivated by the Bigger Picture
This episode made me realize some other things, too. As a small business leader, it’s my responsibility to take care of my team, because we – together – are the ones who are making it happen for each other and the company. We’re also the ones who are making it happen for this country.
A recent report showed that in the last decade Fortune 500 companies have been responsible for a net decrease of almost two million jobs. During the same time period, family-owned and privately-held businesses have been responsible for a net increase of more than 18 million jobs. Over 90 percent of all American businesses are family owned or controlled, and together they generate more than half of our nation’s gross national product!
Take a look at that list of words we went over that describe a leader again. Do those words describe you and your attributes as a leader and a person? If not, it’s time to get to get serious. What are you going to do to grow? What are you going to do to grow your business and your team? (Don’t forget about your team.) Remember, they’re the ones who make you look good.
Take the pulse of your team on a regular basis, and find out what you can do to help them grow and learn, too!
Chris LoCurto is an accomplished speaker who travels extensively throughout the United States helping families and businesses learn how to handle their money. For more information visit www.daveramsey.com/speakers.
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