By Catie Bloom, AAA Appliance Service Center, Park Ridge, IL
We all have heard expressions like “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” or “There is no ‘I’ in team,” but what really separates a great leader from an average leader? Douglas MacArthur said “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” As leaders, we control our business environment through who we bring in and set the tone of our organizations through our own actions.
Setting Goals and Recognizing Successes
What kind of example are you setting for yourself? For your employees? Do you have personal goals? Do your employees have individual goals? Who holds them accountable for meeting their metrics? Who holds you accountable for your actions? Some business owners have Peer Groups that assist in holding them accountable for their business operations, but this does not meet the organization’s need to address employee concerns or celebrate as a team when an individual succeeds in personal or professional goals.
Everyone wants to be a winner. Even the small wins deserve celebration. Employees want to know when they are doing a good job and need their accomplishments recognized in order to feel valuable and happy in the workplace. As a leader, you create this kind of environment by setting attainable goals and rewarding team members publicly when they reach their goals. We are able to see only a small fraction of what others are juggling each day, so sharing in a success that matters to an individual employee makes everyone feel like they are part of a good organization. Everyone continues to strive to achieve goals of their own because they, too, want to share in the experience of praise and reward.
Establishing an Organizational Personality
Organizations, like people, have different personalities. Leaders and owners have both the luxury and challenge to establish and manage their organization’s small world of personalities. Creating the right combination of personalities within your organization starts with making sure you have balanced talents, a shared and collective vision and strong personal bonds. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. It is essential that leaders create a team that has a balanced skillset as a group and that they ensure the right people are in the correct positions based on their personal skillsets. Furthermore, each and every person needs to be behind your organization’s common goals. It’s up to you as a leader to share the vision with your staff. This goes back to the “weakest link” expression: If one person does not share in the vision, he or she will prevent the group from achieving goals at the desired rate or at all. People will only work the bare minimum unless they care.
Creating Personal and Organizational Loyalty
Younger generations tend to be more loyal to people than organizations. They are likely to stay because they feel loyal to a person in the organization and will leave when that other person leaves. With this in mind, leaders must work to establish personal loyalty. Develop personal relationships through social functions, local sports events, company parties, sponsored events and so on. The options are endless and you should decide what fits based on your organization’s personality.
If you can demonstrate that you know what your team cares about, your team is likely to care about you too. Building these sorts of mutually responsive relationships starts with the first interview. Just like any other relationship, these require regular attention, maintenance and trust to stay strong. When leaders go out of their way to create a vested interest in team members and to boost the self-esteem of their personnel, it is amazing what people can accomplish with their own personal investment in the organization.