It's Only Common Sense: What Kind of Leader are You?


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Are you truly leading the way? Are you your company’s visionary?

I once had a boss who wanted to sit in his office all day, never participating in any meetings. He would then ask us, his managers, to write long tediously detailed reports and give them to him so he would know what was going on. In short, he wanted to know everything we were doing without having to participate in anything.

On Mondays, for example, I would have to put together an updated rolling forecast for the next three months, and review the forecast with the boss at 4:30 pm that day. Now, I am not saying that there should be no reporting, but I could just as easily have done a status report and turned it in to him every Monday morning for him to read at his leisure.

Oh, and there is another thing he could have done. He could have come to our Monday morning status meetings and heard everything from all of his managers first-hand. That way, in the space of an hour, he would have been completely updated. He could have given us his appropriate feedback and we could have all spent a much more productive Monday.

My point is that he was wasting our time, his time, and the company’s time. As a leader, of course you have to know what is going on. You have to make sure that things are going in the right direction and, yes, you do have to set that direction. But you should not be wasting your managers’ time on long individual meetings so that they dedicate their lives to keeping you updated at all times. That should happen automatically through a more sophisticated, productive reporting system.

As a leader you should always be working on making your managers and the people who work for them as productive and effective as possible.

This is what I believe a leader should be doing:

He should be a visionary: He should be setting the company’s vision, mission and direction. He should be the person who is always looking towards the future to see what is on the horizon and then leading his people in that direction while developing a strategic direction of that company.

She should be the chief strategist: She has to be the one who sets the direction. She must assimilate all of the company’s information, combine it with all of the market information including customer and competitor information, and form the company’s strategic direction. And she should make sure that everyone in the company understands the company’s direction.

He should develop the company’s values: The rest of the company should be able to look toward the leader as an example of how to behave, how to treat people in general, including customers and even competitors. The leader’s values must be impeccable.

She should set the pace for the company: She is the company driver. She makes sure that the company is always moving forward and in the right direction.

He should be the chief communicator: He should always be communicating the company’s message.  He is the one person who is the keeper of the company’s culture, making sure that everyone in the company understands everything about the company. This includes not only what it stands for, but also where it is going. If the message is clear, the people will enact it and live it.

He should be the face of the company: When it comes to the public, the leader represents the company. He should do so with personality, dignity and integrity. He should be his company’s leader, and an industry leader as well. When it comes to the industry, he has to make sure that his company has a strong and valid place at the table.

She should be the company’s number one customer advocate: The leader has the biggest voice in the company; all of the other team members take their cue on how to behave from their company leader. They also learn how to treat their customers from their leader. She should never badmouth a customer, because once she does so, she is giving tacit approval to all of her associates to do the same. She must keep the highest standards when it comes to customer service, insisting that customers be treated like gold. She has to set the gold standard for customer treatment and service. She has to show her people how to always do the right thing, and how to always take the high road.

Finally, the company leader has to always assume the role of leadership. He must be on duty and on his best behavior at all times. There is no room for sloppiness, no room for less than exemplary behavior, no room for ever giving the job anything but his or her very best at all times. The leader has to lead by example, because her entire team—from the top VPs to the people on the floor—is watching her and taking their cues from her. The way her team behaves and performs will always be indicative of the kind of leader she is.

It’s only common sense.

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