Are you ready to lead? If you want to succeed, you had better be.
I’ve said before that the number one skill I’d focus on to achieve success in business and life is leadership. Leadership is the key to boosting productivity, creating more value in your organization and even changing the lives of the people you’re responsible for.
But, to be an effective leader, you can’t just come in and start throwing your weight around. You have to command respect. That doesn’t come from just coming in and saying “I’m the leader, listen to me.”
You have to earn it. And once earned, you have to keep it.
So how do you go about doing that?
Be passionate about your vision.
Successful entrepreneurs are always passionate about what they do. Take Mark Zuckerberg, for instance. The founder of Facebook had this to say about passion:
“Find that thing you are super passionate about. A lot of the founding principles of Facebook are that if people have access to more information and are more connected, it will make the world better; people will have more understanding, more empathy. That’s the guiding principle for me. On hard days, I really just step back, and that’s the thing that keeps me going.”
It’s not enough just to be passionate, though. Make sure you’re communicating that passion to the employees or subordinates you lead, and you’ll be able to earn and keep respect and keep your team on the same page. And a team that’s on the same page is an effective team.
Have a servant leadership attitude.
When you look at great leaders, they all have the attribute of trying to help the people under them be better and have better lives. No matter what your business model is, you’re serving. You’re filling a need or solving a problem. And if you’re in it for yourself, everyone else under you will be, too.
Earn respect by working hard to serve the people under you; you’ll gain and keep their respect.
Be open to change.
Seth Godin has founded companies, changed the face of the publishing industry multiple times and become a world-renowned speaker, writer and thought leader. He’s met and spoken with leaders across many different industries and nations, and at the end of the day there’s one major lesson that he found: Great leaders have in common the willingness to change and make things better.
That means being open to input.
Now, there’s a caveat to this: Godin also points out that “great leaders don’t try to please everyone.” Being open to input doesn’t mean being wishy-washy about your vision, or taking steps that are counterproductive because you want to keep people happy.
But, having a flexible mindset and being willing to listen to your employees makes you a better leader. As entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Leaders need to listen and empower their team to become leaders themselves and take ownership of the work they’re given.”
No one knows everything, not even you, and if you’re smart you’ve surrounded yourself with people that complement your strengths and weaknesses. Listen to them and you’ll both earn and keep their respect.
Do you know where the expression “pass the buck” comes from? In poker games on the American frontier, a marker was used to indicate whose turn it was to deal the cards, often a knife with a buck handle. If a player didn’t want to have the responsibility of dealing, they would pass the marker to the next person.
Harry S. Truman knew of this tradition, and had a sign on his desk that immortalized an expression derived from this phrase: “The buck stops here.”
Steve Jobs was famous for this mindset. He was concerned with taking responsibility end to end with Apple’s process, and it resulted in one of the most transformative companies that’s ever existed. Jobs took responsibility, and as a result Apple changed the world.
When you’re in a position of leadership, you can earn and keep respect by saying the same thing Truman and Jobs did: The buck stops here. You’re responsible for everything that happens under you.
Respect is earned.
A great leader earns respect, and when you apply these four points you’ll be able to take your organization and the people under you to new heights. You’ll inspire leadership in those who work for you and with you. And you’ll change lives, maybe in ways you didn’t ever expect.
Take that step today, and make tomorrow better. You’ll be glad you did.
Founder and CEO of Echelon Copy LLC