The business environment has never before needed leadership like it does now, that is for certain. But leadership has become much more than just a position.
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Gone are the days of the military forms of leading where power and authority simply came from the top and reduced as you went down the ranks.
Developing leaders in your organization is one of the most important things one can do in business. As an entrepreneur you must remember that you will only be as effective as the people you surround yourself with, and most of the time these people work for you. If your people are not growing most of the time it is because of one of two things: either you are not personally growing, or you are failing to help your people develop the skills necessary for them to move on to the next level.
John Maxwell, an American author, motivational speaker and leadership expert, runs an organization called EQUIP. This stands for encouraging qualities undeveloped in people. The challenge for most leaders according to John Maxwell is that they are very task-oriented and not very people-oriented.
It is important to find a balance because initially you will need to be task-oriented to get your business up and running, but after its inception you must now learn to be more focused on the people in your organization. If they don't grow, the organization will stagnate and eventually start to grow backwards.
So what are some ways leaders can effectively develop those people around them while still maintaining a focus on fulfilling all the task-oriented requirements of the organization? Here are some quick tips.
Tip 1: Continue to develop yourself
People will naturally follow a leader who is stronger than themselves.
Make sure that you are on a personal growth program which may consist of reading self-help books and listening to motivational and self-help tapes and CDs. This will keep you enthusiastic and excited about your business as well as motivate your organization to stretch itself.
John Maxwell is quoted as saying that "Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them."
Tip 2: Get a mentor
There are two very crucial ways that people learn in life: one is their own mistakes, the second way is through a mentor.
Every successful person has a mentor and in business this is vital to your success.
Having a mentor will put you in a follower's position from time to time and will give you a relationship to emulate with your organization.
Chances are your mentor in business will have some experience in developing people too. In fact, if he's been your mentor, he probably helped you develop into the person you are now.
Tip 3: Invest your time wisely
A leader cannot effectively build meaningful relationships with everyone in an organization. This is not possible, especially if you have moved from a small startup to a much bigger team of employees.
To remain effective you must know which people to focus on developing, so there are other people helping you duplicate your thought-process on how things should be done to the rest of the organization.
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It is a commonly used principle in business, as 80% of your productivity will come from 20% of the people. It is these 20% of the people you need to be spending time with, as they will produce 80% of the results.
By leveraging your time this way you can effectively teach them to do the same thing and what you will have is leaders developing leaders developing leaders.
Tip 4: Develop a genuine interest in other people
People skills are something most people think they have already but in reality you can never stop improving your ability to communicate and relate to other people.
People will go to great lengths to perform or rise up to a standard for someone they know cares about them. John Maxwell advocates that "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care".
Spend some time getting to know the people in your organization. Connect with them on their level. Find out some of their goals and dreams and you may find that you can line up the goals of your organization with theirs. This is a winning combination that is unmatched.
A good book to read is by Dale Carnegie, titled "How to Win Friends and Influence People". And remember, people skills are not a manipulative tool and the people you try to do this with will see through what you are doing.
Real people experts don't use people skills, they have people skills. There's a big difference.
Tip 5: Be the standard
The best form of advice is being the right example.
If your people see that you are someone with integrity, the most hardworking person in the entire organization, always positive and with a great attitude, they will inevitably be drawn to you and will want to emulate what you are doing.
Set the standard not by saying what the standard is, but by being it.
There's a famous saying which states that "what you do speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you're saying". This is good and bad news. If you do nothing but try to micromanage your people they will listen to what you say, watch what you do, and then do half of what you do.
As a leader your people will always do half of what you do right and double what you do wrong. Remember that when you are asking them to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Ask yourself the question whether you would want someone exactly like you in your organization. If the answer is no then you've got some work to do.