"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader."
-- John Quincy Adams
Being a great manager in business is quite an accomplishment. Great managers get things done efficiently and effectively. Great organizations need great management. However, great management does not necessarily make a great organization.
For an organization to be great, it must also have great leadership. Leaders have vision and willing followers. They look beyond the here and now to see the vast potential of their organization. Leaders accomplish their goals in ways different from managers.
Managers use systems to drive their employees to achieve the goals of the organization. Leaders, on the other hand, challenge their employees by creating a compelling vision and then unlocking their employees' potential.
The skills required to be a leader are no secret. Anyone can learn what leaders do and apply the skills themselves. Here are some of the skills of true leaders:
* Leaders recognize the potential in others. They believe that each person is valuable, able and responsible. Leaders recognize that each person has untapped skills that can be harnessed to achieve organizational goals -- and at a profit. A leader must have the courage to look for hidden abilities by observing, monitoring and, most important, listening.
* Leaders empower people across the board. This means they don't play favorites. They are seen as fair, even-handed and inspiring. They empower their people to see themselves in positive ways, as competent, productive and important. They unleash the natural energy within all employees by clearing away the roadblocks to creativity, innovation and motivation.
* Leaders communicate effectively. Employees want to be an integral part of their organization and want their opinions heard, skills utilized and efforts recognized. Great leaders earn the commitment of their workers by building communication links throughout the organization.
* Leaders support and facilitate. Leaders create environments in which employees are safe to speak up, to tell the truth and to take risks. They support their employees and facilitate their ability to get things done. Leaders throw out life preservers when the going gets rough. With this safety net in place, employees are more willing to stretch themselves and take chances that can create big payoffs for the organization.
* Leaders know the Golden Rule is good business. Leaders work to develop trusting, positive relationships by treating people as they expect to be treated. Leaders model the respect they expect in all personal and professional interactions with others.
* Leaders don't compromise their values. In a recent survey, integrity was the most desired trait that employees wanted from their leaders. When leaders conduct themselves with integrity, the organization can make a positive difference in the lives of its employees, its customers and others. This, in turn, results in positive feelings about the organization.
* Leaders make decisions. The best leaders are decisive. They don't wait for the course of events to make decisions for them. They take whatever time is necessary to make an informed decision within a reasonable time frame. A leader carefully weighs the available data versus the relative need of the decision and then acts accordingly.
* Leaders exude confidence and optimism. Workers are naturally attracted to positive leaders with a winning attitude. Great leaders see the future as a wonderful place to reach and conquer. This optimism and confidence creates an excitement that is infectious, resulting in greater productivity, improved environment and increased morale.
Leadership is in shorter supply than management because it is a great deal more work. But, it also offers a greater payoff. People want to work for leaders. Leaders revel in the growth and accomplishments of their people. Great leadership is at the heart of business management and success.
Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from Northern Utah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.