Five Principles I Have Learned About Leadership

1) Influence is not about a position

Many people have the assumption that you need to have a title in order to be a leader.  Early in my career I thought that once I reached a manager, supervisor, president or any other leadership title then people would listen to me.  I quickly realized that this is not the case at all.  Leadership is all about influence.  In my many years of managing numerous different types of people I now understand that to get people to do what you ask them to do does not always come down to you being the boss.  It more comes down to influencing them why they need to do something.  It does not always consist of if they don’t do what you ask they might loose their job.  But again the WHY they need to do it.  The why is the whole factor in influence.

If a person can see the benefit in why they are doing it then the leader should be able to count on it getting done.  Now sometime yes time can be of the essence and if they have trust in the person leading them then the leader would not have to go into full detail on the why.

2) Leadership calls for decisions

In my years in the corporate world there were many people calling me asking me questions expecting me to answer ever one of them.  Most of the time I trained my team when coming to me with a problem to come with a few solutions to the problem.  Now of course in the corporate world we still had our policies and procedures and we always had a manual we could go through.  But on the gray area questions that did not fit within the guidelines set out, called for someone to make a decision.

Every day in my decision-making I would constantly be in prayer about the decisions but make sure that once I made the decision I was confident with that answer.  I learned to make sure that strong leaders when giving a decision would not hesitate even if they were not completely confident in that decision.  When making a decision be confident in making it and stand by your decision.

3)  Adjust to different types of people

On my honeymoon 19 years ago, Stacey and I purchased a program from a guy named Marshal Sylver who was a motivational speaker and as we watched his infomercial, we just wanted to purchase his program.  We listened to those tapes over and over again.

He taught a principle called “Mirroring and Matching.”   This is also tied into another principle I learned in the corporate world for sales and leadership called “adjusting your personal style.”  Basically what this means is to make sure that when talking to someone who might be either slow or fast in their speech then you would do the same.

I am a “just give me the facts” guy, not a “give me all the details” guy, so when communicating with me I prefer people who cut through all the stuff to get to the real facts.

This works for both sales and leadership.  When leading someone who needs all the details then you can give it to them, if they are a fast talker then in most cases you might want to speed up your speech to keep their attention.   Some people look you in the eye the entire time they are speaking and some don’t.  I have even heard of some cultures where looking them in the eye is insulting.

However, if they feel like you are copying them and their speech it can also seem like you are mocking them.  There are also some people who are extremely as they say “thick-skinned” and some you have to be a little gentler to when giving correction or direction.

4) Staying positive

Too many times when things get tough and things are not going your way the leader needs to make sure they are staying positive.  In leading my team I make sure that I am always positive.  Being an encourager, a motivator and inspire those under me.  Your attitude determines your altitude as John Maxwell said.

When I first started out I remember telling myself that some people are motivated by intimidation but I was always motivated by positive affirmations.  So when leading a team I motivated by staying positive.  I would say affirmations, scriptures, and incantations to motivate myself and then in turn motivating others.

Early in my leadership, I was 24 years old leading a team who were twice my age and I had to be different.  My positive attitude was just that.  After having success a lot of people asked me what was my key.  After telling them it was by always staying positive I heard things like “that will never work at my office” but those that actually changed their minds and starting being positive showed success and had much higher employee moral.

People want you to lead them in a positive manner.  That does not always mean that you don’t have to sit them down and correct them in areas they are struggling in but there is a positive way you can discuss it with them.  Praise in public and correct in private.

5) Accountability

Coming from the corporate world this word “accountability” is probably one of the most common words used, especially in our economy.  If you can’t perform your duties and responsibilities there are consequences in turn requiring the leadership team to hold you accountable.  Being a leader you will have to have those difficult conversations with those who are not performing.

During my role as a leader, I would have those difficult conversations but I would always have some direction for them to follow to increase their performance.  I would also require them to come up with some ideas and some new things they could do to increase their performance.  Many times it worked and their performance increased but many times it did not.  Which created another conversation on whether they really were cut out for that type of work or not.

Accountability also comes down to discipline on the persons’ part and also the leaders part.  You loose credibility as a leader if you don’t follow up on the areas and discussions you had with that person about their responsibilities.  If you are unable to confront those who are struggling in areas then you might not be the right person for leadership.

~Brad Post

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