How to Be a Good Leader and Keep People From Cursing Your Name!
Yesterday I ran into someone I used to work with at my last corporate job. And I gave her a big hug. I hadn’t seen her in over five years. And the first words she uttered to me was, “Fuck that guy.” I knew exactly who she was talking about. She was talking about our old boss – a man that caused a hundred men and women to flee.
I had left that job partly because of him. She was demoted and then she quit because of him. One of my good friends stayed as long as she could but eventually left because of him. Several people requested transfers to other accounts because of him.
It really started we started thinking about leadership. What is a leader? In his head, my old boss was a leader, but looking back – he definitely wasn’t.
I’m pretty new to this whole leadership thing. I’ve always been a pretty good employee. I was a decent solo contractor. I’ve always been a very thankful and friendly boss. I have 9 employees now and a few contractors to manage. I’ve always looked for people I didn’t have to manage because I hate it. But as our team grows, there can’t be a lack of leadership in my chair. Running into my co-worker reminded me exactly of who I don’t want to be.
Leaders Should Have a Vision
What made my old boss the worst? He didn’t have a vision. He regurgitated the same corporate vision everyone had been taught when you start at that company but he lacked personal vision for his team and what we were to accomplish. Ultimately, he was a puppet – a puppet of our corporate overlords telling him to manage something better or come in under budget better. He didn’t inspire us to work harder, he just made us work harder.
A leader that lacks vision misses the opportunity to empower the team to innovate. A lack of vision is also a strike against making the work environment better for the team. With vision, you can not only open communication down to the team, but you can open the dialog up to upper management if you have someone to report to. My old boss lost the faith of the people who were supposed to follow him. You can lead a group of people wandering in the desert without the hope of a destination.
Leaders Should Have Values
How do you make decisions? How do you teach others to make the right decision when you’re not around? Everyone should understand what’s important. Our old boss, instead of teaching us what guiding values and principles we should follow, he micromanaged tasks and made quick illogical decisions. Generally, he was an asshole when things weren’t getting done the way that he had told his boss they were going to get done. If everyone knows what’s important, you don’t have to micromanage.
Leaders Should Understand Everyone’s Job
My old boss often hovered dangerously close to a bad Michael Scott impression. He had no idea how to relate to the people that worked for him so he’d often resort to weird kooky behavior. It was extremely awkward. What’s a better way to get to know your team? Roll-up your sleeves and do the dirty work. You need to understand the job so you can coach and connect with the people that work for you.
Five years ago, I was ill-equipped to run a business. I did a lot of work and professional development to get to where I am today. Now that small business has nine staff members and we add 1-2 people a year as we grow. I don’t want to be ill-equipped to be a leader as our business enters the next phase of growth. New Life Goal: I don’t want anyone to say, “Fuck that lady.”