I think the reason people tend to view leadership in a negative light is because some people have executed it badly in the past. Being in a leadership position is a responsibility, and a privilege. It’s about serving the people you lead, not barking orders and making them serve you.
As a leader – there are limits to your leadership.
1. Your first limit is you. You can only lead people to places you have gone. That means you need to raise this limit, by constantly learning and developing. If you want your people to be better at customer service – then you must read about and learn about and practice customer service at a level higher than the best of your people.
2. You cannot have expectations without communication.
The level with which you communicate will determine the level at which you can lead. Every person beneath you should have a written job description, which spells out what is expected of them. You should also have a written job description that spells out what they should expect of you. If at any time these descriptions change – make sure it is communicated clearly and in writing.
Remember that communication by definition does not exist if it does not have a transmitter and a receiver. Your mouth is your transmitter – their BRAIN is the receiver. That means you may be sending it to their ears – but if they don’t receive that communication – then it by definition – doesn’t exist. Find ways to make sure your staff can reiterate what your expectations are.
3. You cannot show disrespect.
This is a limit you cannot cross. If your staff has violated or not met your expectations – then you need to have a clear method to deal with it. “You didn’t perform X as requested. This is the consequence. There is not a need to raise your voice, to insult, to get physical, to show anger. Deal with it swiftly, fairly, and honestly. You may be “the jerk” in the situation – and part of leadership is accepting that not everyone will like the decisions you make… but there is no room for insults, gossip, and disrespect.
4. You are limited by the amount of responsibility you are willing to take.
This is a hard thing for a leader to grasp today. Your success and failure IS the success and failure of your people. If your employee fails – you have failed. It’s not “their fault” for screwing up – it’s “your fault” for not providing proper training, accountability, or whatever the case may be. Be sure to remember that leadership takes the responsibility of their team. It BEARS the responsibility of their team.
5. You are limited by the praise you dole out.
If you are not the most positive and encouraging person on your team – then that is a limit you will hit. We just talked about responsibility – and while that success gets credited to you – it’s up to you to pass it along to your people. That may come in form of bonuses, thank you notes, kind words, or pizza. 🙂