Kenny Chapman: Three areas of focus for effective leaders
People don’t work for companies, they work for people.
Now that we have a few months of the new decade in the rearview mirror, let’s use this perfect opportunity to reflect upon a few key areas effective leaders must focus on. If numbers aren’t tracking as well as you want, or if you feel like there is something “off” in your organization, the first place to look is at yourself as a leader (as well as your other top leaders and managers).
As we know, there are various positive qualities that define a great leader, but if we want to consistently accomplish our goals, we need to examine the top three areas leaders need to focus on. Keep in mind that there are numerous people in our organizations who count on us each day, and the continued growth of our companies is a direct result of our ongoing personal and professional growth and re-evaluation.
As I reflect upon my own career as a leader, I can remember many instances when I did not live up to my ideals based on failure to focus enough on these three areas. I can remember wondering: “Why doesn’t anybody else in the company understand me?” and “Why can’t other team members desire the same results that I do?”
Now I understand I simply wasn’t being the leader that they needed me to be. We’ve all had careers full of new experiences and learning opportunities to this point; now it’s time to pay attention to what is important as we identify how to effectively lead our organizations into the rest of the decade and beyond. Let’s examine the following fundamental focus areas of great leaders and how they directly apply to you and your company.
Establish High Standards
When you ask a leader if they have high standards, the majority will respond with a resounding, “Yes!” This is not surprising since we would all like to believe we set and maintain high standards. Most people expect a lot from themselves and those around them, but I believe that everyone does the best they can based on their awareness and the information available to them.
Consider your standards. Do you have high standards for yourself and your organization? Do you set higher standards for others than you do for yourself? Where are some specific areas that you could raise your personal and company standards to a new level?
One way to maintain a higher level of standards is to develop a very clear, strong mission statement. Post it on the wall, make sure everyone knows it and use it during performance reviews as a point of reference. Another way to keep standards high or improve them is to invest in continuing education.
When importance is placed on personal and professional growth, it becomes known that simply maintaining the status quo is not acceptable in your organization. Let your team members know innovation, growth and creativity are all part of your culture, and don’t just tell them; lead by example.
The quality of your product, service and entire organization will always be directly related to how high your standards are and what results you’re willing to accept, and that starts with your leadership strategies and communication.
FOSTER QUALITY RELATIONSHIPS
The topic of relationship-building is crucial to any discussion of leadership focus. In reality, we build relationships during each of our daily interactions, but the major distinction lies in the type of relationship being formed.
The ability to create quality relationships within your organization is indispensable when it comes to winning in any competitive marketplace or environment.
Keep in mind that people don’t work for companies, they work for people. This is a simple concept, but also an easy one to overlook as we’re working diligently to hit budgets, increase sales or diversify the business.
Pay attention to the quality of relationships you’re forming with your team members. The Golden Rule timelessly applies: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Always approach your team members as equal, intelligent, respected players on your winning team. After all, either you or someone you trust chose to hire them.
People want to know they are valued for their hard work, so make sure to say a simple, “Thanks for your hard work,” now and then, or acknowledge an achievement during a team meeting. A little effort really does go a long way toward building solid relationships in your company. The better relationships you form and maintain, the better results you’ll consistently produce, and the less likely you will be to experience high turnover rates.
DEVELOP A RESULTS-ORIENTED CULTURE
Each month when you receive your internal financial analysis report, you’re reminded of the importance of examining and taking control of your results. The question is, how focused are you on creating your desired results during the rest of the month? Have you developed a results-oriented culture, or are results simply the outcome of a specific time period? A results-based culture stems from your ability as a leader to analyze performance and guide your team members in the direction of positive results.
Guiding team members in the right direction almost always requires some form of training. If you want different results that you are getting now, you need to implement a solid, consistent training plan focused on the results you desire.
Additionally, everyone in the company needs to be moving in the same direction. If the office starts doing something new, for example, it needs to be with the intention of moving toward the same end goals that salespeople are driving toward. When everyone gains a cohesive focus on what’s possible regarding your company’s performance, productivity will increase exponentially.