Are you a great leader? Many people confuse leadership with having all the answers and being a drill sergeant or dictator.
We discuss the traits of a great leader and that leadership, just like vision and belief is an acquirable skill. No one is a natural born leader.
And we share a few great resources for improving your leadership skills.
Links to resources mentioned in the video:
Pamela: Hey everybody its Pamela.
Tracy: And I’m Tracy.
Pamela: And we are here to discuss How Business Really Works!
Tracy: Today we’re continuing our series on Top Predictors of Success for a Business Owner. We’ve discussed Belief. We’ve discussed Vision and being a Visionary. And today we’re going to discuss Leadership.
Now a lot of people think people are kind of like born with leadership qualities. But I can tell you that’s not true. Some people have the fortune of growing up around people who are strong effective leaders so they kind of naturally pick it up. But leadership is something that can most definitely be learned.
Now we’re going to share with you some of the, what we think are some of the stronger traits of an effective leader.
So Pam, why don’t you go first?
Pamela: First ask for advice. Don’t be too proud to admit when you don’t know something. Just ask for advice. Ask questions as well, so that they kind of go together; ask questions, ask for advice. You can also ask questions of your team that maybe you already know the answer to but you want to elicit a response from them.
Tracy: Well, just like you’re saying, don’t pretend to have all the answers.
Tracy: Don’t be the smartest person in the room.
Pamela: Yeah, you don’t have to; I think some people conflate being a leader with “I have to provide all the answers; I have to do everything for my team”. They’re, you know, they’re just my team and I need to provide everything for them, which is really not the case. Don’t pretend you have all the answers because you probably don’t and there’s no shame in admitting that you don’t and soliciting help when you need it.
Tracy: Yeah, be human because we know you are. We know you’re not a god.
Pamela: Right, yeah.
Tracy: Understand that you have weaknesses. Build a great team around those weaknesses. Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you in the areas where you’re weak.
[Time – 2:03]
Pamela: Right, and have the humility to acknowledge those areas where you’re weak because we’re not all super people, supermen, and women.
Tracy: Yeah don’t be afraid that someone else is going to overshadow you because here’s the thing; you’re the leader and they chose to work for you. So, you don’t have to be concerned about those things. Don’t be afraid to surround yourself with smart people that are smarter than you in the areas that you’re weak.
Pamela: Treat people well. Recognize that a company is a group of people. It’s all built upon the relationships that you have with your team. So you want to value that team. You want to treat them well. Kind of what I was saying a minute ago about don’t pretend that you have all the things that the team needs. Treat them with respect, your customers, your clients, your vendors, your employees. All of these people affect the success of your business. If you don’t treat them well how do you think they are going to repay your business? It’s not going to be pretty.
Tracy: Yeah, make sure that you praise people and you know you find the best in everybody. There is no reason to point out the worst, just find the best in everybody around you. And another thing, delegate. People grow as they receive more responsibility not before.
Pamela: That’s right. So if I can interject for a second Tracy. I just have a personal experience with this where I’ve worked with managers in the past who have wanted a certain level of control over the process and things that they could have delegated to me very easily, and that I was more than capable of doing, they wanted to do themselves. Either they just had this personal need to control everything or maybe they didn’t trust me fully. Maybe it was something about what I did. I don’t know, but I just know that in those circumstances; a) it was a waste of time. They were wasting their time on things they should have never been doing in the first place. I could easily have done. It was also demoralizing to me as their employee to think to myself why on earth would this person not trust me with this. Is it really that big of a deal if I write this article or whatever? It just sends this message that you don’t think your employees are capable, even if you don’t mean to send that message. That’s not the message you want to be sending. So you have to be cognizant of the messages that you’re sending your employees through your actions.
Sorry didn’t mean to interrupt but.
[Time – 4:35]
Tracy: So basically Pamela you’re telling us you’ve worked for some people that weren’t very good leaders.
Pamela: No they weren’t. I’ve worked for some great leaders, I really have. But I’m just like you know, off of the top of my head I’m thinking of the times where it wasn’t so great to illustrate our points and…
Tracy: Yeah and unfortunately that’s what stuck out in your mind.
Pamela: It does!
Tracy: Yeah, you know that’s the thing about it; if you build a good team, trust them. Motivate them, praise them, listen to their suggestion, take them seriously, and just, you know, point out the positive. Look for the positive. If someone is kind of like, not on your best side right at the moment, the best thing you can do as a great leader is to think of all of their positive points.
Pamela: Another thing, lead by example. Say and do the things that you actually believe. Really easy, but you know, easier said than done.
Tracy: Most definitely easier said than done.
Pamela: Yeah, I think, and Tracy agrees, she is the one that brought this point up to me. The things that you say and do in life whether they are in your business or personal life, they are really a symbol of who you are. They epitomize who you are as a person. So what you put out there in the world, especially that we’re all online these days and it is easy to start typing before our little sensors have an opportunity to work, but really you have to keep in mind that the things that you say and do are a symbol of who you are for better or for worse.
Tracy: That’s true. And now, the golden rule of effective leadership. Be the last to speak. If you’re familiar with Simon Sinek you’ve probably heard him say this. As soon as Pam and I heard it we were like oh, that’s it. There’s the golden rule. And he talked about this at the Spark Conference and I would like to read you a little bit of what he said on that subject.
[Time – 6:28]
Being the last to speak
The skill to hold your opinion to yourself until everyone else has spoken does two things. One, it gives everyone else the feeling that they have been heard. It gives everyone else the ability to feel like they contributed. And two, you get the benefit of hearing what everyone else thinks before you render your opinion. It’s a skill. The skill really is to keep your opinion to yourself. If you agree with what someone is saying, don’t nod yes. If you disagree with what they are saying, don’t nod no.
Pamela: Wait, I was nodding yes, should I have not nodded yes?
Tracy: I think I was nodding backward also.
Pamela: I was like, um huh, um huh, oh wait, I’m not going to nod.
Tracy: You were agreeing with what he said?
Pamela: Yes, yes, that’s true.
Simply sit there. Take it all in and the only thing you are allowed to do is to ask questions so that you can understand what they mean and why they have the opinion they have. You must understand from where they are speaking, why they have the opinion they have and not just what they are saying. And in the end, you’ll get your turn. Sounds easy, it’s not. Just practice being the last one to speak.
Pamela: Yeah, I think that is so great.
Tracy: It is.
Pamela: And it’s hard. It really is. You’ve got this strong burning opinion about something or you have a very strong version of how you want things done in your business, it’s hard to just keep your mouth shut.
Tracy: And I guarantee you that every one of you has been in this situation and everyone of you has done this. You walk in a room, you go: Here’s our problem, here’s what I think. I want to hear what everybody else thinks.”
[Time – 8:30]
Backwards! Because here’s the thing, someone might have a great idea, but they don’t have the balls to contradict the boss and you missed out on a great idea, a great opinion that might have solved the problem way quicker than anything that you have come up with.
Pamela: Yeah, yeah, if you’re just dictating right out the gate. Then like Tracy said, maybe they don’t want to contradict the boss. Maybe they are new there and they feel like they haven’t earned that place in the company yet. You don’t really know what’s going on in their minds, but give them the opportunity to give feedback first. And then you can give your opinion.
Tracy: So how do you learn to be a great leader? Well, I’ll tell you what, you’re not going to do it in a weekend. You’re not going to do it in a month. It takes a lifetime of honing a skill. Every interaction that you have with someone, examine it after the fact go how did I handle that? Did I handle that the way an effective leader would handle that? Did we get the best result from that interaction? Could I have done this better, and if so how could I, might handle this better? Did I speak too soon? Did I give the person a chance to fully express themselves?
Now, if you’re not an effective leader, if you’re a dictator you know, recognize it. If you have a tendency to avoid conflicts, I’m not saying you should get into conflicts, but if a conflict arises, do you handle it head on or do you kind of like shy away from it and hope it fizzles out. An effective leader is going to know how to handle every situation.
[Time – 10:18]
Pamela: So if you’ve noticed, if you’ve watched this mini-series on Top Predictors of Success, you will notice a pattern here. We’ve talked about belief; we’ve talked about vision and how to be a visionary. Now we are talking about leadership. In all three of these videos we have said that you’ll have to practice, you’ll have to put in the work and put in the time to become these things or to acquire these characteristics but that they are defiantly learnable. These are not something that you are born with. You don’t, you know, get born and at five years old you’re running the world. These are skills that you really can learn on your own, but you have to apply a specific discipline over time to acquire these and that’s the theme that’s been going throughout this whole mini-series about Predictors of Success. There are specific traits that we have mentioned that you do need and that good leaders have, and that visionaries have, and that people that believe in themselves have. But they are all acquirable, very acquirable by you just by putting in the work over time.
Tracy: Yeah, matter of fact, three of the best books you’ll ever read on becoming an effective leader, and please don’t just read them once, study them. But the first is by the author of our golden rule of leadership Simon Sinek. It’s called Leaders Eat Last. Guess you know what that one’s all about. The other is, and hopefully, you are already familiar with John C. Maxwell. He has been a leader in the education of leadership for decades I guess. But two of his books I highly recommend are the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and Developing the Leader within You. These three books will set you very far down the road of being a great and effective leader, but you have to apply the information. You have to examine all your interactions with people and how well you handled it. You know, muck one up, you mucked one up but learned from it.
[Time – 12:26]
Pamela: And I was telling Tracy just yesterday I have personal experience with this. I’ve been in a situation where I was working with people who there were specific things going on with them where it wasn’t working out with them for one reason or another, but really it all came down to my inexperience in leading. I didn’t have the experience, I really didn’t have the knowledge or the tools and that experience kind of spooked me from you know, hiring people in the future but I’ve come to a point now where I’m like okay, I know what I did wrong. I mean whatever happened with them, happened and it’s over but I know what I need to do differently to avoid those situations in the first place, maybe bring in better people or handle these situations better when they come up. So I speak from the heart when I say you can learn these skills and be a better leader. We all fall on our faces at certain times in our careers. I mean you’ve told me stories of your businesses. I’ve told you some of mine. We all have these experiences. But read these books like Tracy said. Don’t just read them once. Read them, read them again, take note, digest them, do the work and you can become a great leader.
Tracy: So this is the conclusion of our series on the traits and characteristics and predictors of a successful business person. Hope you’ve taken it to heart. We hope you want to apply it and learn and grow and become better at being a successful business owner. And we honestly hope we’ve really helped you. So what we want to know from you now is do you think you’re an effective leader? And if so, what are your strongest leadership traits. So if you’re watching on the video put a comment below and if you’re listening to the podcast head on over to how business works dot com and chat us up there. There are plenty of places where you can get in touch with us on the website.
[Time – 14:18]
Pamela: Absolutely, and don’t forget to like this episode. Please share it on social media with your friends, with your business acquaintances if this has helped you out. Don’t forget to subscribe and if you are listening on iTunes please leave us a review on iTunes. We would be really appreciative and it will help us become found on iTunes more easily which will, in turn, help us help you build your business. So thank you for joining us today and we will see you next time.