Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

Norb Slowikowski / July 2019

Leadership is the ability to establish a positive work climate so that people are motivated to come to work every day and do their best work. The leader who expects his or her people to perform their best will achieve the greatest results. Strong leadership enhances productivity. You must move from glittering generalities to touch-minded specifics. It is possible to practice a style of leadership based on the belief that a tough mind and a tender heart create the best synergy for your people.

Tough Questions?
Tough-minded leadership requires asking the following questions and turning the answers into best practices for the work at hand:

  • Do your know exactly what I expect from you on a daily basis?
  • Do you know the performance standards for your job position?
  • Do you feel that your performance appraisals truly capture what you are doing on the job?
  • Do you need any training or any coaching to do your job to the best of your ability?

Leadership Traits
Effective leadership also requires buy-in and delivery of the following seven key leadership traits:
Be proactive, not reactive. This requires planning, forecasting events before they occur and establishing an action plan that brings positive results.
Begin with the end in mind. Set goals that specify the expected results. Identify the costs to get there, including time and money.
Put first things first. Set priorities by level of importance. Create an action plan with target dates for each action item.
Think win-win. Develop a mindset that says, “I must give people what they want and need before they can give me what I expect.”
Seek first to understand, before being understood. Use active listening; be specific in your communication. Have your people report back to you what they think you mean. Get to the meaning of the message; listen for “feelings” messages, and be empathic.
Create synergy. The word “synergy” means power. There is more power in the team than there is in the individual as far as productivity is concerned. When more people work together as a team, positive results occur.
Sharpen your saw. Never stop learning and growing. You should always be curious, always striving for continuous improvement. Always.
Next month we will delve further into tough-minded leadership and present more qualities that you need to be the best manager you can be.

Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill. To contact him, email norbslow2@gmail.com.