Common sense and effective leadership go hand in hand

Published in The Nashville Business Journal

Leadership is not complicated. First we need to work smart, and then we can go on to working hard. Working smart begins with a liberal application of common sense, so let’s look at a few basic practices of people who lead effectively:

Set direction. Everyone wants to know where the ship is headed, so don’t keep it a secret. Explain as much as you can and more often than you think necessary. Repetition is important. Experts say people remember only a small portion of what they hear, so repeating the message is essential to building a clear understanding of your business-unit goals.

Support. Achievement takes place when people have the tools to get the job done. Your leadership role includes ensuring the right tools are close at hand and knocking down any obstacles that might get in way of productivity.

Engage. Everyone wants to be part of something, so engage your people as much as you can. When team members participate in the planning process they will more clearly understand direction, plus they will be well positioned to make suggestions that could have a positive impact on the level of accomplishment.

Coach. The time you spend coaching and teaching pays off by multiplying productivity and reducing big, costly errors. You also earn the respect of your people. Perhaps most importantly, when you look back on your career, the highlights will most likely be the people you coached along the way.

Reward. When you teach your dog to do something, you reward that behavior with a treat. People react the same way, except the treat is a pat on the back. It only takes a few seconds to acknowledge someone, so if you want more productive people, recognize those who achieve. Remember, recognition is still the No. 1 motivator.

Set the example. Model the behavior you expect from your team. If you want frugality, demonstrate it in all you do. If you expect team members to respect each other, go out of your way to show respect to every individual.

As you develop your leadership skills, let common sense be your guide. And that includes never letting your leadership position go to your head. Inflated egos have brought down more leaders than any other shortcoming. Be a common-sense leader.

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