There are many effective styles of leadership, probably, as many as there are different personality types of employees and bosses. That said, there are several secrets to leadership in any organization and becoming a better leader overall.
Leadership Secret 1: Vision
You must have a clear and compelling vision for the future of your organization. These are not benchmarks, targeted gross revenue, or active customer count, but something much more powerful. Your vision is a picture of where you want the organization to progress. It’s the bigger picture of how your business should look—described and planned in as much sensory-rich detail as possible. Leadership starts from within. If you have a clear picture of the future of your organization, then your conversation, actions, and goals will tend to fall in line with this vision, and, ultimately, manifest it.
Leadership Secret 2: Communication
On the other hand, having a clear vision of the future is valueless unless you become exceedingly effective at communicating that vision to others. That does not mean you must be a gifted public speaker. Many great leaders (including Thomas Jefferson, among others) were not gifted speakers. You may communicate your vision through pictures, public speeches, written communications, or any type of media, but your message must be received by its intended recipients in the most compelling way possible.
Leadership Secret 3: Emotional Commitment
You must lead people from their hearts and not their heads. Daily commitment comes from an emotional attachment to the leader, mission, vision, or the target feelings conveyed by your vision of the future. All leadership is based upon the emotional commitment of the followers much more than an abstract intellectual understanding of goals and objectives. Committing to the emotional attachment portrays you as a compassionate leader, who understands their employees are human and embracing it will earn you more respect.
Leadership Secret 4: Values-Based
Although financial rewards help motivate or maintain motivation, ultimately, people will wake early and work late with the highest levels of intensity to contribute to others and the community. If financial rewards are directly tied to personal contribution to others, then motivation will remain high. Long-term motivation in any win-lose environment is nearly impossible. Be clear about your overriding values and operate daily within those espoused values.
Leadership Secret 5: Congruence
Your words and actions must be congruent. You cannot motivate people to contribute and encourage them to believe in a higher purpose if, ultimately, your integrity is questionable. Although business owners, managers, and politicians have attained high levels with questionable integrity, I maintain long-term leadership must be based upon honesty and the highest integrity. If your manager co-opts your help to hide his extramarital affairs, then how much trust will you give him? If your boss has a different persona in public than in private, will you trust his or her communications with you are sincere?
Leadership Secret 6: Team Orientation
Someone once said, “You can accomplish anything if you don’t care who receives credit for it.” In business, this attitude is exceptionally rare. Many business owners believe their own press, acting as if anything good that happens to them was their idea. Instead give credit; involve the entire team as much as possible to accomplish new directions through consensus. It’s better, as the leader, to play a supporting role in many discussions and let the team members find the means to accomplish the ends in your vision.
Leadership Secret 7: Results Orientation
Focus on results, not the process it takes. Create accountability from every team member for the result, not the activity. Many ideas are good if implemented effectively. The greatest idea will fail if it is implemented poorly. Allow people, within limits, to choose their means to achieve your agreed-upon end. Manage, based upon results, not activity.
Leadership Secret 8: Goals
Once you’ve implemented all the other ‘secrets’, establish daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. Make sure they are all congruent with your mission, values, and vision. Peter Drucker once said, “What gets measured gets done.” Keep records and statistics on everything in your business. Focus on two, three, or four key metrics and watch them like a hawk. Graph them, post them in your office at the reception desk, in the break room, or even at the front door. Nothing motivates action like a huge graph of your targeted active client count in plain view. Look at your key numbers daily or even hourly to maintain focus.
Leadership Secret 9: Walk Your Talk
I know this is redundant, but nothing fails to motivate employees more than hypocrisy. Decide to live by your values and be who you say you are 365 days a year, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Leadership Secret 10: Fairness
Ultimately, everyone must benefit from the success and suffer from failure — and you do go through both. In compensation, reward people greatly for successes, and make sure there are consequences for failure. If you delegate authority, then focus on the team and allow its members to be 100% responsible for their outcomes. Be supportive, but not paternalistic. If you never allow anyone to fail, then you’ve never allowed him or her to achieve much either.