Knowing the difference between thoughtful business leadership and the kind that happens seemingly by accident is critical – not only in your ability to grow and develop as a leader, but to establish a pattern of success that’s deliberate, not miraculous
- Real leadership means leading yourself. Passing out orders is as easy as passing out business cards. But a prudent leader also knows how to lead himself or herself – not merely to provide a genuine example to others, but to become a working element of the overall machinery of your business.
- Don’t be a monarch. Accidental leaders often inadvertently establish a system of guidance that’s unnecessarily restrictive. Guide employees, but don’t implement more parameters than are absolutely necessary.
- Be open to new ways of doing things. An inadvertent leader will put far too much stock in sticking with what always works. By contrast, thoughtful leadership acknowledges success but also recognizes there are always ways to do things better.
- Learn to work with diversity. With growing partnerships across borders, it becomes obvious that blending a variety of cultures and backgrounds in a work environment is an essential leadership skill. A thoughtless leader will try to cope with this as best as he can. One with more vision will work to take advantage of differences.
- Establish a genuine sense of commitment. Want to be “committed to superior service”? More power to you, but a genuine leader will see that as words and little else. Instead, establish how to quantify excellence, design a cogent plan to achieve it and set a reasonable but real timetable for its completion.
- Finish the job. Many business leaders yak about their complete game, but how many actually finish what they say they’re going to start? Instead, set goals and establish pragmatic, accountable measures to actually finish what you start.
- Show genuine appreciation. Thoughtless leaders must have forearms like Popeye’s, what with all the back-slapping they do. That’s fine, but good performance requires a more substantive response. Leaders with an eye to the future hand out praise but augment it with real rewards: promotions, raises, bonuses and other tangible tokens of appreciation.
- Know that leadership skills come from learning, too. Sure, great ideas can come to any of us, but being a bona fide leader also means study. Read books on effective leadership, attend seminars and pick the brains of colleagues to see what works for them. It can be a long education, but one with rewards that multiply with the more knowledge you have under your belt.
Adapted from Microsoft Small Business Center