Simple Rules For Being The Best Leader You Can Be

March 5, 2010
Nashville Business Journal

True leaders are transparent. They earn respect with clear, open and honest communication. And they build a respectful environment by demonstrating personal integrity, taking a genuine interest in employees and their work, and trusting enough to delegate when necessary.

Be a model—at all times. As a leader you are always on stage.  Your actions and words directly impact those around you and influence the results of your business unit. Your team sees every move and listens to each word, so it’s up to you to model the performance you expect from them. Attitude is contagious. If we want our team to have an outstanding outlook, we must first set the example by personally demonstrating the positive and enthusiastic attitude we expect from them. 

Keep no secrets. One of my mentors was as a proponent of being a “no secrets” leader. He made the point that there is no advantage to keeping secrets—and there is tremendous benefit to sharing all that you know. Sharing knowledge is personally liberating and also empowering for those around you. Ultimately, it builds respect for you as a leader.

Set clear direction. The people that work for you simply want realistic expectations and straightforward direction to perform their work. If you want them to get the job done well, be clear and consistent up front, measure results along the way and give constructive performance feedback when the job is done. Then, when someone does a good job, don’t waste time handing out a hearty pat on the back.

Remove obstacles. A leader’s role is to clear potential roadblocks out of the way so that our people can be outstanding performers. It is particularly important that people on the “frontline” have the support they need to achieve maximum results. We win in business when our team exceeds performance expectations, so we need to ensure that they have a clear path to success: the best information and tools available to perform effectively.

Wear your coach’s cap. Take the time to teach each member of your team the skills required to be an outstanding performer. There is no greater reward than coaching someone and then standing back to watch that person achieve beyond their expectations. Coaching that develops both individual and team skills will, in turn, build your stature in their eyes as the true leader of the team. 

Trust and delegate. Trust is an essential component of leadership. It’s the key to moving from task manager to inspirational leader. But it’s also one of the most difficult growth hurdles that young executives face: to delegate and then trust others to do what the boss still thinks he can do better. Most importantly, we must trust to earn trust. Our people will trust us when we clearly communicate the goals and objectives of our business unit—and then empower the team to get the job done.

The big secret about leadership is that there are no secrets. Leadership is comprised of a liberal application of common sense coupled with a little compassion and a lot of enthusiasm.

 

Joe Scarlett, joe@joescarlett.com
Retired Chairman of Tractor Supply Company
Founder of the Scarlett Leadership Institute

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