7 Atypical Tips for Great Leadership

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Pattern

You’ve probably heard that to be a great leader, you need things like a clear vision for your company, a great communication style and the ability to be empathetic, adaptable, and flexible. These are all true—but it’s not quite that simple. There are layers to leadership, and every situation is unique. As a family business and leadership consultant, I have helped lots of leaders at lots of businesses work to improve the way they lead and have a learned a few things along the way. The following are some atypical tips for leaders. Not the ones you hear every day but important, nonetheless.

Ask Your Employees for Ideas

Not every idea has to come from the top down. Leaders are responsible for the success of the company, and as a result they feel a responsibility to be the one to come up with the solutions. But leaders are rarely deeply involved with the day to day at the ground levels. They don’t have visibility into the individual parts that drive the machine. But you know who does? The employees. Encourage your employees to share specific ideas to solve the problems they face each day. If you repeat this process for each part of your business, you might find the right answers in places you never looked.

Reminder: Not Everyone Thinks Like You

Before you set your vision for the company and communicate it through the leadership chain, don’t just think about what it means to you, but what it could mean to everyone else. Each person will perceive the vision slightly differently. If these perceptions vary too much, your vision could be dead on arrival. It’s impossible to know what everyone is thinking but do your best to create a strategy for the creation of your vision, with the larger group at the center of its focus.

Invest in Middle Management

Management training can be pricey, and most companies only invest in training for their highest-level leadership. It makes sense, but it’s a missed opportunity to ignore the lower levels of the organization. Investing in middle management has the dual benefit of developing the next set of upper-level management while simultaneously improving how the company is run at the ground level.

Titles Matter. Even Ceremonious Ones.

Titles are important to people. They confer status, recognition, and validation. Put simply. people feel good about them and make them want to be better at what they do. Many leaders assume a new title means a specific position or a raise or both. But you can give a deserving person a new title if even you can’t give them a raise. You’d be surprised how positively employees react to this type of recognition.

Don’t Incapacitate Your Leadership Team

Leadership without authority is toothless. If your leaders can’t make their own decisions without your go ahead, or pull certain levers to achieve the company goals, you may have well sent them to a rock fight with a pillow. For your team to be effective, you must empower them. Failing to give leadership true authority will create a feeling of frustration form the leader and their team.

Look for the Good, Obsessively

Never let a good deed go unnoticed. Look everywhere for small victories from employees. Your employees work hard to achieve success, no matter how small the victory may seem. Recognizing these victories—and rewarding them—creates positive reinforcement to encourage more of the same. The reward doesn’t have to be material either. A kind and encouraging word is all that’s needed sometimes.

Maybe Pass on That Pizza Party

Be a generous leader. It’s important to reward your employees. What you might consider a reward, though, may not be what your employees really want. Sure, everyone likes pizza. But your employees can get pizza whenever they want—and they probably get better pizza on their own. What employees really want is time off and more flexibility. Various studies show this. And if you really want to know how your employees want to be rewarded, just ask them.

 

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