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Seven Secrets to Being the Leader Everyone Wants to Follow

from: Ed Sykes

In this changing, challenging, and competitive workplace, we
can’t overestimate the importance of good management.
Good managers will consistently motivate you to perform at
higher levels of productivity. Bad managers will drive you
crazy and eventually out of the organization. Managers with
poor skills will frequently produce the following results:

1. Decreased productivity
2. Increased turnover
3. Increased absences
4. Increased human resources mediation situations
5. Increased customer service complaints

The following are seven secrets to being the “perfect” leader
everyone wants to work for:

1. Create a Vision
The best leaders not only assign tasks or monitor
performance. They plan for the future and motivate others to
see the same vision so they can all thrive to accomplish that

Instead of dwelling on limited problems, the perfect leaders
look at the big picture. They live the organization’s mission
and implement, motivate, and dedicate all their efforts to
accomplishing the mission.

During hundreds of team building and leadership
workshops, I have asked the following simple question:

What is your organization’s mission statement?

If there are forty participants in the workshop, thirty-seven
will look down at their desk, one participant will make a
feeble attempt at reciting what he/she “thinks” is the mission
statement, one participant will make a pretty good attempt
and recite the first one or two sentences of the mission
statement, and finally one student will volunteer to run to the
office (or car) to grab a copy of the statement to bring back
to the workshop. Out of the thousands of workshop
participants I have asked this question, only three knew their
mission statement word for word. The amazing part of this is
that many of these workshop participants have been with
their organization 5-10-20+ years and, they still didn’t know
their mission statement. So my question is this:

How do you lead your employees to accomplish your
organization’s mission if you (as a manager) don’t know
what the mission is?

The perfect leaders live, eat, sleep, and shower with their
mission statement. They know exactly what the mission is
and understand its importance to the team they lead and to
the organization. Most importantly, they communicate the
mission statement to their employees at meetings, coachings,
feedback sessions, and even corrective actions. Their
actions are related to accomplishing the goals of the mission
statement and can communicate the vision of the

Action Step – Take the mission statement out of the dark
corner in the office. Print the mission statement and its
vision on the top of your meeting agenda and recite it at the
beginning of the meeting. Then talk about how the
employees are helping to realize the goals, values, and vision
of the mission.

2. Understand employee needs
As the old saying goes, “You can’t please all of the people
all of the time.” However, the perfect leaders realize that to
be effective, they must cater to the needs of most of the
team. Good leaders realize that the work environment is not a
popularity contest or, as I say, “Leadership is not
Pleasership.” Perfect leaders treat all employees with respect
and are consistent in their actions and words.

At the same time, they recognize the unique needs of their
employees and use that knowledge for motivation to achieve
a common goal.

3. Communicate concisely and clearly
Poor communication skills are probably the Number #1
reason managers fail. If they can’t talk to and connect with
their employees, they are not serving the needs of the staff.

What is good communication? The following are some

? Communicate job expectations and standards
? Give ongoing feedback to employees.
? Seek and acknowledge feedback from employees on
decisions that effect them (and take the time to listen to
? Communicate the mission (see Secret #1) on an ongoing
? Communicate “bad news” in an honest and timely manner.
? Communicate using language that shows a positive
? Communicate through a combination of methods: person-
to-person, e-mail, phone, and meetings.

4. Find common ground
Some managers don’t understand they are in the people
business and lack the patience to work and develop their
team members. I even had a supervisor during a coaching
and mentoring workshop make the following statement to me
at break:

“If I had known that I had to communicate with my team, I
would have never taken the job.”

What did this person think? True leaders understand that
their employees’ success is their success. They comprehend
during this journey that some employees will need
assistance, coachings, motivation, feedback, and discipline.
Good leaders will work to find common ground with each
staff member so that everyone wins. Perfect leaders will
understand that some employees will need consistent
managing, and others will need less managing; some
employees need refocusing, while others will be very
focused, etc. Perfect leaders recognize the need to find
common ground with each person.

5. Take others to a new level
Perfect managers are concerned with their staff’s
professional advancement and do everything possible to
help staff members develop their capabilities. These leaders
“see the employees for what they can become, not what they
are now.” These leaders’ actions might range from
improving specific aspects of job performance, to delegating
special assignments, to developing an action plan for
promotions. Perfect leaders must have the ability to assess
the strengths and weaknesses of employees and use that to
coach for continuous improvement.

Ideally the basis for improvement combines the best interest
of the organization and the employee. Many times I am
brought into organizations to assist them with this need:

“I have managers retiring, and we have no one to replace

These organizations have created a “talent black hole,”
because they didn’t implement a plan to “help others
improve” and be ready to step up when needed. Remember,
you can always replace a chair, a desk, a computer. But you
can’t always replace a talented employee if you don’t have a
plan in place to develop others to take their place when the
time comes.

6. Believe in your staff
Recently, I was presenting the concerns of an employee
workshop to management of an organization at their staff
meeting. One manager looked at the report and questioned
me as to whether the employees really mentioned the items in
the report. I assured the manager the employees did. To
that the manager answered in the meeting, “This must mean
we have smart employees.” Little did this manager realize
that he had a negative attitude toward his employees.
Through his subconscious mind, he is showing his
employees, through words and actions, that he doesn’t
believe in his staff.

Perfect leaders believe in the best qualities of their
employees. They believe their employees are smart enough
to handle tasks and find solutions to challenges if given the
correct guidance and opportunity.

This comes with earned trust from past performances and the
investment by the leaders to ongoing shared coachings and
feedback to give the employees the experience and skills to
succeed in the future.

7. Integrity is best
It is important that employees feel they can trust the
managers’ words and actions. This means honesty, fairness,
and consistency when interacting with employees. If
employees share in private a confidential and sensitive
subject with their managers
in the morning, this must not be known throughout the
organization that afternoon. Or, if managers promise to give
employees an answer by the end of the day and never get
back to the employees, the managers’ integrity is destroyed.

The best leaders realize that their word is their bond and that
actions speak louder than words. Perfect leaders work at
being honest, open, and reliable everyday.

Take the time starting today to apply these seven secrets;
and you, too, can be a “perfect” leader.

About the author:
Ed Sykes is a professional speaker, author, and leading
expert in the areas of leadership, motivation, stress
management, customer service, and team building. You can
e-mail him at mailto:esykes@thesykesgrp.com, or call him at
(757) 427-7032. Goto his web site,
http://www.thesykesgrp.com,and signup for the newsletter,
OnPoint, and receive the free ebook, "Empowerment and
Stress Secrets for the Busy Professional."


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