You need more than training to be a good leader. You need to earn the trust and respect of your team, and inspire your employees to contribute to the company’s growth and development. In order to be such a leader, you’re going to need to prove to your employees that you’re a person of character and integrity who keeps the best interests of your team members at heart. You need to understand your employees and help them see how they contribute to the company and even how they make a difference in the world.
Whether you’re mid-career or just beginning your professional life, you can learn the skills you need to become a better leader with a master’s degree in organizational leadership. Hone your leadership skills by practicing consistency, honesty, clear communication and concern for others in all of your dealings with classmates, co-workers and team members. Know what your team is capable of, and give them opportunities to learn and grow as professionals and people.
Earn Your Team’s Trust
Winning the trust of those who work under you is an essential part of leading your team to success. In a nutshell, earning trust is about showing trustworthiness. How can you show your team you’re worthy of their trust?
You can start by making it clear you benefit from your team’s success as much as they do. People feel more comfortable placing their trust in someone when they feel that person’s interests line up with their own. Find out what best serves your team members’ interests, and then do what you can to further those interests.
You should also demonstrate you care about the well-being of your team members as much as you care about your own. Show your team you are on their side. Don’t automatically put your or the company’s needs above those of your employees.
Keep your promises and follow through on your vision. This shows you’re capable of seeing a commitment through to the end. Always be honest in your dealings with co-workers, and be consistent in showing courtesy, respect and integrity. Nurture your relationship with your team members by keeping the lines of communication open. By communicating openly, often and well, you can be certain you’re meeting the needs of your employees and serving their best interests.
Inspire Top Performance
Once you’ve won your team’s trust, you will be able to inspire them to give their best to the company. Since you have open lines of communication with your team members, you’ll know where their strengths and weaknesses lie and how they can best contribute to the company. Instead of berating your team members for their weaknesses, focus on uplifting them for their strengths; this will inspire them to work harder and contribute more.
Make sure your team members know exactly what it is that they’re contributing to your organization, and not just in terms of the bottom line. Let them see the finished product that results from their efforts — take them to the factory or the store so they can see what they’ve produced, for example. Introduce charity drives or other programs that help your employees make a difference in the world outside the office walls.
Don’t be afraid to give your employees clear, direct and objective feedback, but at the same time, trust them to do what they’re being paid to do. Give your employees the coaching they need to build their skill sets, but try to avoid lecturing. When you review your employees’ performance, measure their successes as well as the significance of those successes. Were you able to hire new employees or turn a bigger profit due to a team member’s hard work? Let each employee know exactly how his or her efforts have translated into greater success for the company.
Remember that your employees are people with lives outside of work, and they’ll feel more inspired to offer their best to the company if you can help them achieve personal growth as well as professional growth. Take the time to be a mentor. Offer your employees the chance to attend development forums, conferences and networking events. Consider offering each team member a book that you feel will help him or her grow.
Inspiring your team and winning their trust requires selflessness, honesty, integrity and character. You have to care about your team members as people, and help them grow and develop both personally and professionally. If you can put in the time and effort to mentor each member of your team and help them grow, you’ll reap the benefits in the form of greater productivity, increased innovation and bigger profits.
Image by Grant Cochrane from FreeDigitalPhotos.net
About the Author: Contributing blogger Tom Latiolais has occupied multiple leadership positions over the course of his 20-year executive career.