Five Steps for Leadership

When you lead, you create an environment where people decide to follow, to take responsibility, and to be held accountable. When you manage, you tell people what to do, monitor the progress, and make adjustments. You should do both, but the more you lead and the less you manage, the more successful both you and your employees will be.

The first step in leadership is determining where you are going.
How can people do their jobs if they don’t know their purpose? How do their jobs fit in the big picture or even the next cog in the wheel? People take responsibility more easily when they know what they’re responsible for – and that means more than just a list of job tasks.

The second step is gaining commitment.
Make sure you have clearly communicated job standards and provided training, because if you haven’t been specific, you are going to get mixed results. Then make sure they understand why the standards exist and ask them to identify any obstacles that keep them from achieving the standards. Your job is to provide resources and remove obstacles. When commitment wanes, as it will when the going gets tough, remind people about the importance of the standards to the big picture .

The third step is inviting people to improve the process.
Get them watching for ways to continually do things better. Don’t settle for easy goals. On the other hand, don’t sabotage people with impossibly high goals.

The fourth step is showing you care.
The old saying goes, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you often find yourself saying, “Why can’t they just do their job?” look at your own attitude. Have you been empathetic and caring about what is going on with them? All of our lives are divided into segments. It is unrealistic to believe people can leave the rest of their lives outside the door when they come to work. Taking an interest in people and their lives will earn their caring toward you, as well. People enjoy working with and giving to people they care about. People are loyal to people they care about.

The fifth step is helping people find the right fit.
Sometimes we put a round peg in a square hole and wonder why it doesn’t work. It’s really hard to be successful if you don’t have the knowledge, skill, or talent to do a job. Even if you think the job is one that anyone can do, be on the alert for clues that a person might be better suited for a different job. Match innate talents with learned skills. Even if you have to steer them to working somewhere else, you will find that both skill level and job satisfaction will be higher.

So, the next time you’re pulling your hair out asking “Why can’t they just do their job?” ask yourself, “Am I doing everything I can do as a leader to help them do their job successfully?” Remember that just because a job can be done by someone doesn’t mean it will be done by them successfully. You have to lead by creating an environment where they both want to be and can be successful.


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