The word leadership is thrown around a lot. It’s a simple concept, but elaborate strategies and MBA-speak can overcomplicate things.
Here are 4 leadership skills we’ve understood since we were young:
1. The Golden Rule
Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. We’ve all grown up with this.
Customers keep coming back based on how our team serves them. Our team serves our customers based on how we treat them. If you yell and scream, are disrespectful, and push unreasonable expectations, don’t be surprised when your team doesn’t develop deep, meaningful, profitable customer relationships.
Consider raising the bar to treat others the way they want to be treated.
2. You get out what you put in
Given our busy schedules it’s easy to make excuses for not spending time with our people. A few minutes a day or 30 minutes a week makes a huge difference in employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction. Especially with our Key 3.
Did the best player on the team get there without a lot of hard work? Did the first chair musician earn her spot without practice? Leading people is no different.
It requires effort. If we want certain outcomes we have to create an environment to encourage those outcomes.
It’s no surprise when children who grow up alone don’t learn acceptable adult behaviors. Similarly, workplace teams are filled with under-developed children because they were never led when young in their careers. Don’t let this happen to your team.
3. Respect and trust
Remember that teacher in school who was too harsh? Remember the team bully? Would you allow people like them to lead you now?
Me neither. Our teams feel the same so we can’t take respect or trust lightly.
Albert Einstein said:
I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.
Respect is earned by giving it first. Take an interest in people so they know you care. Listen.
4. It’s not a popularity contest
Leadership doesn’t have anything to do with popularity or being liked. I made this mistake early in my career. I wanted to be liked by everyone but it’s impossible. We can’t make everyone happy
Popularity was important in middle school class elections. Then we got to high school and it became less of a factor; the positions required more engagement and more interaction with faculty. In college, only those motivated enough to make connections were elected, appointed, or earned the jobs that really matter.
Leadership requires work beyond these four things, yes. But we’ve all grown up understanding some basic principles to get us started.
What other leadership skills have we known all our lives? Please feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to read your thoughts.
Check out the rest of the Leadership 101 series.