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Four Leadership Tips to
Ring In the New Year With Higher Profits

By Joe Takash

As holidays approach and we face another uncertain year in business, companies must equip themselves with smart practices to position themselves for greater opportunities in 2010. These begin with those who lead the company. Here are 4 tips leaders must consider to keep performance and profit going right back up the chimney.

1. Retain your top talent:

  • Communicate with your people. In the absence of feedback, people will create their own and it’s usually negative. Your people must be informed about what is going on, why things are happening and how they contribute.

  • Make individual meetings a standard. The only way to truly get the best ideas and perspectives out of people is in a trusting atmosphere. In business environments, group settings are not that atmosphere. Meeting with your folks individually, ask open- ended questions and listen. Companies are failing because they don’t have either the ego or the awareness to practice this crucial leadership technique.

  • Compliment people. Remember how it feels when someone provides you encouragement and positive feedback on your unique qualities? We all share the common need for appreciation. Be creative and courageous and while it’s important to state the needs for improvement and performance, be sure to express what people are doing right.

2. Determine what your people are motivated by: Think about a sports team who may be talented but doesn’t play with passion. They place themselves in a far more vulnerable place, one that is susceptible to defeat. Similarly, leaders, like coaches, must find what motivates their staff members and intact teams. Doing so allows them to maximize their confidence, talent, performance and creativity. Tapping into the motivations of your organization creates a winning energy and in a time when so many companies are operating from a place of fear, you can differentiate yourself with a play to win approach, because you have a motivated workforce.

3. Embrace a culture of teaching leadership: Executives have teaching moments every single day. By what they say and what they do, they are influencing right and wrong, ineffective decisions and smart leadership choices. A teaching executive is an individual who realizes this. They make educating and developing those around them a priority value.

The challenge around executives who teach is they really don’t know how to do so. Teaching hasn’t occurred until learning has been confirmed. Telling isn’t teaching. Data dumping is not educating. Executives must practice focus and patience. They must be great listeners and understand that direct reports learn in different manners. Some are analytics who require visual repetition. Others need to be shown how to do things and physically practice them.

These components of corporate education are integral for establishing a culture of learning, teaching and constant development. The teaching executive is a rarity because it requires an others-centered ego while simultaneously accomplishing the complex responsibilities that many organizations require.

4. Pass the bucks(s): As employees evolve into positions of management, responsibilities expand, necessitating leaders to lead people and get away from the daily tasks. Unfortunately, many managers are either not comfortable with big picture leadership and the interpersonal requirements of higher leadership or they can’t let go because they feel like things will not “get done the right way or fast enough,” if they don’t do it.

Learning to let go is not easy, particularly for those who are high controlled and very organized. Yet, it can be done and must be done if an individual is to go to a higher level in an organization. As importantly, not letting go can be disastrous for eroding trust and killing the motivation and development of emerging leaders.

Leaders should incrementally delegate responsibilities. In time, they’ll realize that their team members can accomplish more than they even thought and (gulp!), can periodically do things better and faster than they can.

Letting go creates a culture of capable, talented team members who can contribute value and success to an organization from many different vantage points.

Read other articles and learn more about Joe Takash.

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