Published - October 2010

By Dave Jakielo

Your Leadership Abilities are Directly Tied to Your Success

There are many variables that contribute to the success of a company but one of the most important is the leadership of the management team. People at the top of any organization must realize that management's key responsibility is the accomplishment of the company's goals.

However, the definition of a successful leader isn't based on the individual efforts and accomplishments, rather it is determined by the contributions and accomplishments of the entire team. If, as a top level manager, you find yourself performing the lion's share of the work load, or if the company's tasks could not be accomplished without your direct involvement, then your leadership skills have room for improvement. A poor performing team can exist because of lack of talent on the team or due to the lack of talent of their leader.

We could go on and on about leadership styles but it boils down to two principles. Today's leaders need to be caring and demanding and must realize that those two leadership traits need to be effectively combined to maximize the team's potential.

While a leader needs to show concern about the employees' welfare, that should not be mistaken for a need to always be “Mr. Nice Guy.” When a leader is overly concerned about being well liked, productivity will suffer. Employees may seem happy to work under a manager who is always nice, but a happy employee does not always guarantee a productive employee. In fact, such behavior can backfire when other, more hardworking employees take notice of the fact that they are treated with the same reverence and appreciation as the company slackers. Naturally, the ambitious and productive members of the team will become resentful and may end up leaving to join organizations that express greater appreciation for their hard work. That will ultimately leave your organization with the underperformers.

When I mention demanding I don't mean it to have a negative connotation. Another way of stating the same principle is to have employee expectations and hold people accountable. If you don't hold employees accountable you won't have much success attracting and retaining good team members.

Without a climate of accountability and excellence, the following could occur:

  • Good employees may become unmotivated and join the ranks of the mediocre employees.
  • Good employees may leave to find a work environment where they feel appreciated.
  • There will be unused capacity if everyone is permitted to work below expectations.

Inevitably when I'm conducting a leadership seminar, someone will always ask me for advice on how to motivate employees. I always tell them, “You can't motivate anyone unless they want to be motivated.”

It is important to keep in mind that motivation must come from within an individual. As a leader, you are responsible to create an environment where people will want to motivate themselves. Here are some tips as to how to create a caring/motivating environment.

  • Be a continuous teacher. Share your knowledge with others.
  • Delegate to help others grow in experience and to add variety to their workday.
  • Give feedback and praise daily.

It is a very important concept to keep in mind you can't change anyone unless they want to change. If you have a bad employee on your team it may not be worth your effort to try over and over again to motivate them. Leaders have more important things to do than to try to change a person's attitude and it always seems that we spend more time working with the marginal employees than we do with our excellent employees. Never take your good employees for granted. You should spend most of your time with your good employees. Often managers waste too much time trying to save or turn around employees that really don't want to improve.

A quick way to determine if you should continue to invest time in a marginal employee is to ask yourself the following question: “Knowing what I now know about this person, would I hire this employee again?” If the answer is no, then I recommend freeing them up for other opportunities ASAP and let them start driving someone else crazy.

It's incumbent upon everyone who has management responsibilities to continue to enhance their leadership skills. The excuse, “my employer doesn't pay for training resources,” doesn't fly. There is no excuse for being a poor leader with all the available resources. Seminars, books, webinars, podcasts, etc. are among the many inexpensive venues to further your leadership abilities. There's also a multitude of free resources at your local public library. If you find yourself struggling to be an effective team leader, start working on enhancing your leadership skills or you may find that you are the star of a new reality TV show, The Lousy Boss. Or worse yet, you may find yourself freed up to seek other opportunities.

Dave Jakielo, CHBME, is an International Speaker, Consultant, Executive Coach, and Author, and is president of Seminars & Consulting. Dave is past president of Healthcare Billing and Management Association and the National Speakers Association Pittsburgh Chapter. Sign up for his FREE weekly Success Tips at Dave can be reached via email; phone 412-921-0976.

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