As I reflect back over the course of my career, I realize that I have had many opportunities to learn important lessons of leadership from everyone who has touched my life. Most of them are fundamental principles practiced by great leaders throughout history. However, they are often lost in the hectic swirl of our everyday working lives.
One of the key principles of leadership that has been important for me, especially in difficult times, is be visible. This means spend time with your employees where they work. Walk the floor. Stop and talk with people about the work they are doing and challenges they are facing. Hold communication forums of various formats that enable you to share information, hear feedback, answer questions and, most importantly, just speak with the people who are the creators of your organization’s success.
Inspire your team. Create and communicate a vision that people understand and drive toward. Everyone wants to have an impact and provide value. They want to believe that their work has meaning and that they will leave a legacy for others. I have found that if I provide the goal and empower people, the results are always astounding. Believe in people. Rally them around a dream. Give them the tools they need and support them. With this recipe, you will find that the energy and innovation unleashed will be extraordinary.
Live in the moment. It took me a long time to learn this valuable lesson. It is one I value in others and I continuously strive to follow this in my life. Living in the moment requires focus. It means all of your attention is on the matter at hand, whether you are in a oneon-one discussion or in a large meeting. Put down your BlackBerry. Don’t glance at your computer. Don’t answer your phone. Immerse yourself in the discussion. The result is that you will be truly listening and will hear critical points you would have missed.
More importantly, those involved in the conversation with you will feel valued because you made them your top priority. There is no better way to engage and motivate others – the basis for long-term loyalty.
The world is filled with great leaders. Study them. Emulate them while still being true to yourself. I am always discovering new leadership lessons. I have realized that the secret to this is to be open to new experiences and listen to others who have much wisdom to share.