Michael Hyatt is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishing, the largest Christian publisher in the world. His philosophy is that if you are going to lead well, you must be thoughtful and purposeful about it. He is also the host of a highly successful (and addicting) leadership blog (michaelhyatt.com) with a goal to create insightful, relevant content that you can put to work in your personal and professional life.
In one of his recent posts entitled Thirteen Ways to Frustrate Your Employees, he discusses the top flaws that he experienced from bad bosses over the years. Each points hits on key character mishaps that, if avoided, will make you a great leader. Upon dissecting his post, I was overwhelmed by the amount of leadership gold contained inside. I was determined to take each “character flaw” described and re-write it reverse order to point out the Thirteen Ways To Stay True to Your Followers:
1. Be responsive. Be a good steward to those who reach out to you. Return voice mails and emails in a timely fashion. Do not assume that in time they will simply solve the problem on their own.
2. Always follow through on scheduled meetings. Some might have had to travel to the meeting or do a lot of preparation beforehand. Make it a priority to put those under you above your personal priorities.
3. Never reprimand others in front of their peers. There is nothing more demeaning than being critizied in front of your other co-workers or subordinates. A public reprimand is a sure-fire way to loose the trust of those following you.
4. Stay true to your plan of action. You have spent time getting everyone excited about moving in a new direction, they’ve invested lots of time, energy, and possibly even money. Suddenly changing directions well into your plan shows your followers that you lack visionary wisdom. If you have no choice then sit everyone down and explain your reasons for a change in detail. Be prepared to present a new game plan that you can get them excited about.
5. State your expectations. Clearly state your plan of action and everyone’s role within. Make sure each individual is given clear direction and that they know exactly what is necessary to accomplish their piece of the plan. This will not only make them feel valued and well equipped but will also give you good grounds to keep them accountable on when the annual-review rolls around.
6. Give grace with work-ethic. Yes, “being prepared” is a much needed quality of success but not even the best leaders are perfect. Encourage your followers to be attentive but don’t make them feel like they are walking on egg shells around you. If they present a summary but forgot the backup, don’t say, “Where’s the backup for this? You don’t expect me to make a decision without the detail, do you?” Instead, say, “This is a great summary and I bet your report will be just as good. When do I get to read it?” Then, work out a due date that is reasonable for both parties.
7. Focus on substance over the superficial. Pay attention to actual accomplishments rather than redundant details like how much time they spend at their desk or in the office. Their quality of work is much more important than how many Internet hours they log or the way they dress.
8. Do not micromanage. It is important to be responsive to their needs (see #1 above), but don’t insist that they keep you informed every step of the way. Don’t be to quick to evaluate every decision they make. Provide an environment where they can grow from their mistakes. Instead of breathing down their neck, encourage them, and allow them to get some work done.
9. Don’t do all the talking. Just because you’re the boss, don’t assume that automatically makes you smarter, funnier, and more experienced. Listen to others and really try to understand where they are coming from. Ask questions and don’t give advice prematurely.
10. Go out of your way to recognize your people for their accomplishments. People feel empowered when they know they are doing a good job. Find details that are individually unique in each person’s work and point them out. Make sure that this is done evenly amongst the entire work force. Instead of getting frustrated with those who are struggling, find something they are doing well and commend them on it. This will make them more acceptive to suggestions of improvement.
11. If you catch someone doing something wrong, maintain good character. First, never be quick to acknowledge other’s mistakes. But if you find someone crossing the line, pull then aside with a cool head and handle the matter in private. Don’t lay into them when you are alone but instead stress concern for their well-being.
12. Hold humility high. Your followers don’t need to hear why you are the boss and how good you do your job. Instead, don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes and flaws. This will show people that you are real rather than stuck on your reputation. Humility is oxygen to a positive working environment.
13. Cultivate a consistent positive attitude. This is probably the most important tip I can give you. Do not switch from being happy – to angry – to content – to irritated – etc. You don’t want people constantly asking your assistant for a “weather report” before they meet with you. It is OK to have a bad day but you should never take it out on your followers. Everyone has off days, so plan ahead. Have a game plan for your next unexpected sour hour. Call your mentor or spouse, get a breath of fresh air, take a moment of solitude to gather yourself, read the funnies, or do what you need to do. Then, get back out there and set an example for those looking up to you.