Five elements for Effective Leadership

Norb Slowikowski

January 2006

Five key elements of leadership need to be emphasized if your staff and field supervisors are to be highly productive.

1. Let employees know what’s expected. The supervisor and employee should reach mutual agreement in five basic areas:

- The work that an employee does or the major activities for which he is responsible.
- Where the job fits into the total picture and why it is important.
- The factors upon which performance will be evaluated including quality, quantity, job budgets, safety and materials.n How and when performance will be measured. It may be through quantitative measures or a series of statements describing the conditions that will exist when that area of the job has been adequately performed. - How performance will be rewarded—for example, a pay-for-performance system.

2. Let employees know where they stand. Accentuate the positive. Give your employees positive reinforcement when they do something well. Recognition cannot amount to a superficial pat on the back; it is the results accomplished that should receive the emphasis. This correct type of recognition, like other leadership techniques, is another way of fostering mental and emotional involvement in a job. A strong sense of personal identification with organizational goals takes place because it is directly related to benefits for the individual. In this case, psychological reward is the form of recognition.

3. Establish a sound communications network. Effective leadership requires a network of communication that is both company and employee centered. A sound communication system breeds involvement and decreases the likelihood of an employee stating, "I just do my job. That’s what I’m paid for.” When people feel like they’re in on important matters, they’re much more likely to work harder for the company.

4. Establish a positive work climate.

- Give people the freedom to do their work without constant interference.
- Take positive action to contribute to employee growth and development.
- Discuss possible causes of and solutions to specific problems that are making an employee’s job difficult.
- Train and coach the employee to find better ways of doing the work.
- Provide help and assistance in problem-solving as opposed to always giving the answer.
- Seek out and use employee ideas on how to do the job rather than always projecting the classic "my way or the highway” image.
- Be totally approachable so as to build something beyond a formal boss/employee relationship.

5. Be an effective delegator. Every time a supervisor delegates work to an employee three actions are either expressed or implied:

- He assigns duties, indicating what the employee must do.
- He grants authority. Along with permission to proceed with the assigned work, he will probably transfer to the employee certain rights, such as the right to spend money, to direct the work of other people, to purchase materials, to represent the company to customers or to take other steps necessary to fulfill the new duties.
- He creates an obligation. In accepting an assignment, a subordinate takes on an obligation to his boss to complete the job.

By recognizing that no delegation is complete without a clear understanding of duties, authority and obligation, a supervisor can often overcome a good deal of misunderstanding.

These attributes of delegation are like a three-legged stool. Each depends on the others to help support the whole, and no two can stand alone. Implement the five key elements now, so you can begin your journey to becoming an effective leader.

About the Author
Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill.