Are you a good leader? Ask yourself these 3 questions

Everyone’s path to leadership is different.

My leadership journey started in the military. I entered “management” at just 23 years old when I became the officer in charge of the Reactor Controls division on a nuclear submarine near the end of the Cold War.

I had trained for years for it.

I was ready for it.

I loved it.

I had a passion for the military, the Navy, and the mission of the submarine force. I wanted to lead sailors well and I felt a calling to serve.

Not surprisingly, I was surrounded by other leaders who felt the same way I did.

When I entered Corporate America, however, I found people who went into leadership for vastly different reasons. There were some good leaders, but…there were a lot of people who took management roles simply because of the perks.

They became managers to get recognition, more money, a fancy title, a better office, a bigger bonus check, or to further advance their careers.

They wanted the leadership job for personal gain.

And that’s a problem.

It’s one of the reasons why good leaders are hard to find in Corporate America and why employee engagement is so low.

Too many managers are just in it for themselves.

I like this quote from Lisa Haisha, “Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader… they set out to make a difference.”

“Great leaders don't set out to be a leader... they set out to make a difference.” Lisa Haisha Click To Tweet

In Corporate America today, finding leaders like this is rare.

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking addresses this issue in an article she wrote in 2017 for the NY Times.

She points out what’s wrong with leadership in Corporate America today.

She explains we have “glorified” leadership so much so that people are taking on leadership roles for the wrong reasons. Today, leadership, “attracts those who are motivated by the spotlight rather than by the ideas and people they serve.”

She hits the nail on the head!

There is a shortage of good leaders because many people are choosing to lead for the wrong reasons.

There is a shortage of good leaders because many people are choosing to lead for the wrong reasons. Click To Tweet

If you want to be a good leader, ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Do you have a passion for leadership?

Just like selecting any career, ask yourself if you have the passion to lead. To be a leader means you have the full responsibility of an organization and all the people associated with it. It means you will be accountable for everything that happens on your watch. It is a difficult and sometimes lonely job that demands a 24/7 commitment.

2. Do you care deeply about the idea or organization?

As the leader, all eyes will be on you. Your attitude toward the mission will reverberate throughout the organization. As a conductor, your team will be taking cues from you. If you care deeply about the organization’s mission, they will as well.

3. Do you love people?

Leadership is a people business. Your entire job is to motivate people towards accomplishing a goal. People are messy. They have issues, problems, emotions, relationships, and baggage. But your job is to see past the flaws, love your people, and motivate them to do great things.

News flash! You can’t be a great leader if you don’t love people.

You can’t be a great leader if you don’t love people. Click To Tweet

If you choose to lead, do it for the right reasons. And be a great leader.

Honestly, we need better, not more, leaders.

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7 Keys to Engaging Your Employees

In my last post, I was asked how to grab the leadership bull by the horns when you suddenly find yourself thrust into a new position.

And I said the first 100 days are critical.

To review, you’ve got to have a plan, you’ve got to have dialogue…and as many one-on-one meetings as possible!  If you haven’t read my comments yet, you can find them here.

Moving on…

Here are 7 more ways to “ace” that first 100 days:

1. Set expectations early. People want to know what you stand for.  Let them know what’s important to you as a leader. I typically send a list of my top 10 expectations to my team in the first few weeks.

The worst thing you can do is leave them guessing.

2. Set an example. Your minimum behaviors will be your team’s maximum performance. If you expect people to be on time, you need to be on time. If you expect managers to get out of their offices, you need to be out of your office. If you expect people to wear their safety equipment, you need to wear your safety equipment.

It’s simple.

You can’t lead people where you yourself aren’t willing to go!

3. Signal your priorities.  If you spend the first two hours of each day on your computer and not with your team, they’ll notice. They’ll assume they’re not as important as your e-mail. If you’re all about the inventory numbers and not the on-time delivery results, they’ll think you don’t care about customers.

Always be aware…

Your actions telegraph your intentions.

4. Create a buzz.  Do something to get everyone talking. Make it dramatic enough that it gets the point across instantly.  Here’s an example.  In one manufacturing plant, I had the maintenance team paint over all the signs for the reserved parking spaces for managers…mine included!

The message was clear:

No special treatment.

We’re in this together.

5. Communicate with employees regularly.  Look, leadership changes can make people uneasy.  Your employees will want to know, will there be any organization changes? What are your initial observations? How are things going?

TIP: Send a weekly e-mail to your team.

Let them know what you’re seeing and what they can expect. If there’s any void in communication, worry, speculation, and rumors will spring up in its stead.

6. Create the mood. Attitude is contagious. You need to be upbeat and “on your game” when you’re around your team – no matter what’s going on for you personally. Be empathetic when you have serious issues to deal with, of course.  But if you’re consistently upbeat and in good spirits, the team will mirror your energy.

A leader who’s quiet, unresponsive, angry, abrasive or sarcastic, will suck the life out of any team. Always think about what mood you’re conveying.

7. Cast a vision. At the end of the first 100 days, your team’s strengths and weaknesses will be evident. The goal now is to communicate your vision for the future. Know where you want to go. Let your team “see” your vision in a way that’s clear and concise.

Setting the tone early is critical.

All eyes are on you as the new leader, so make it count.

Create a buzz, set an example, show your priorities, establish the mood and most of all…

BE PRESENT.

All of the above will save your gluteus maximus down the line if and when you need to work as a team on the tough issues.

That’s all for today.

One more thing, if you haven’t already, be sure to get your copy of my book I Have The Watch by going here.

And if you buy it before October 30, 2019, and send me your receipt, I’ll send you a special 20-minute video interview I recorded called “Engage Your People, Or Die” that contains some of my best “shotgun” tricks for quickly bringing your team on side when your survival depends on it…because it does!

This recording is NOT for sale anywhere.

And I honestly think it’s some of my most valuable content on the subject…not that I’m biased or anything. 😉

I could probably charge as much as $49 for the video, but it’s yours FREE if you buy the book and send me your receipt by October 30th at 11:59 PM.  Grab your copy today!

Help! I’m in a new leadership role, what should I do?

A while back I was asked this timely question:

Q: Jon, help!  I’ve just started a new leadership role and really want to make a good impression, what should I do?

A: First off, congrats!

Here’s the deal:

It doesn’t matter how seasoned you are, any time you start a new role, you’re the rookie.  Everyone’s watching you for cues to see what kind of leader you’re going to be.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the first 100 days are critically important. 

It’s your chance to set the right tone for your organization.

That first 100 days represent the “honeymoon” phase.

It’s the small window of time when you have the full attention of everyone.  Yes, you’ll be under a microscope with people watching your every move.  But this is good news!  It means you can make a big impact…

IF you take advantage of those beautiful early days!

First and foremost:

You’ve got to have a plan.

No plan, no magic.

The best leaders in history have known this…and used this “secret” to win the commitment – if not the hearts – of their staff.  And this all begins with letting your team know who you are.  There may be anticipation – even trepidation – among your people.  Right off the bat, have a meeting with all team members to fully introduce yourself.

Use stories and examples of how you handled past situations to let them see your character.  Be visible.  Spend time where your people are.  Actively listen to their questions, concerns, and ideas. And engage them on the subjects they care about.

In this way, you’ll get to know them.

And they’ll get to know you as well.

Finally, make a point to meet one-on-one with key employees.  I like to have one-on-one meetings with as many people as I can. I want to know the biggest challenges and the most important issues facing the organization. I also want to understand what they think needs to be addressed first.

Bottom line:

The energy you put out is the energy you get back.

If you’re open, cooperative, and show them you value them as humans, they’ll pay it back with insights you wouldn’t get otherwise and greater alignment at all levels.  Get ‘em on the bus first.  Then you can steer.

Anyway, that’s all for today.

Stay tuned for my next post when I’ll go into no less than 7 more key actions you MUST take in those all-important first days to grab this bull by the horns and bring it on home!

If you are striving to become a better leader, get a copy of my Amazon best selling bookI have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.