Article originally published in the American City Business Journals on March 27, 2018
There is no shortage of advice offered to business leaders on how to build teams and lead effective organizations.
As a business leader climbing the ranks of my company and eventually reaching the position of CEO, I have learned much from my own experiences. I have also observed other leaders and learned from them.
I offer the following list of what to do and what not to do if one wants to be an effective leader and build a thriving business.
1. Communicate to your team what you are trying to accomplish
The Holy Grail of any business should be to become the preferred provider of products or services to its markets — the company that customers and clients go to first. Develop strategies with your team to be on a journey to become that preferred provider and share with all employees why this is important.
2. Choose your employees wisely
Your employees represent you and your company. The results they achieve or fail to achieve and the ability to work cohesively as a team have a direct impact on your reputation as an effective leader. Ensure they have common sense and good critical judgment and can see themselves as others see them.
Choose direct reports that you can trust and whowill be trusted by fellow team members. Don’t tolerate individuals who play destructive politics at the expense of others. These people are toxic and can cause significant damage to your business. Fire any employee who acts in this manner.
3. Don’t undercut those in your organization
Empower your people and give them the authority to do their jobs. Give them space to disagree with you. Insecure leaders hold their people to a tight script and lash out if they say the wrong thing. If questioned why a member of your team has a different viewpoint than yours on an issue, just say you respect that view, but this is the direction the team is going.
If, however, a direct report cannot get onboard and impedes the direction you are taking, you need to part company with them, but in a respectful way, so they can maintain their dignity. Personally tell them, face to face. Jointly write the announcement. You will be judged on how you handle their departure.
4. Don’t criticize a team member publicly
If you don’t like their performance, talk with them one-on-one. Public criticism not only undermines that individual and their ability to do their job, but it is also a bad reflection on you.
Public criticism destroys their ability to get things done. Put yourself in their position. Would you want to be publicly criticized by your boss?
5. Chaotic organizations are ineffective
Build a stable team. Chaos is bad for the organization. People need to build working relationships and trust among team members as well as those they deal with outside the company. Frequent turnover prevents this from happening and inhibits the achievement of your objectives.
Customers will be reluctant to believe any commitments made by an individual who has been undermined by their boss because he or she may only have a short tenure. They will think, why cut a deal now, when I might be able to cut a better deal with the next individual who is appointed to that position?
6. Engender trust by being consistent in your policies and decisions
You need to be readable by your employees. This provides them with guidance on how to act in various situations. Being consistent also engenders trust with those you deal with outside the company.
7. Don’t hire people who lack credibility to do the job
It is a bad reflection on you, the leader, if you send a lightweight to do a job that requires an experienced heavyweight. You also harm the reputation of that individual if you give them an objective they don’t have the skills and experience to accomplish.
8. It’s okay to admit you were wrong and change direction
If an initiative you previously committed to becomes impractical or has unintended adverse consequences not initially foreseen, it’s okay to admit you were wrong and to change direction. The worst thing you can do is continue to pursue a bad initiative because of a previous commitment. Not acknowledging issues is a sure way to lose trust, and once trust is lost, it is hard to gain it back.
9. You want to be respected and not feared
Respect keeps lines of communication open. Fear shuts them down. You want everyone in your organization, regardless of position, to feel comfortable in sharing things with you. You can’t resolve issues if you don’t know what they are.
Leaders who self-aggrandize are insecure and lose respect of their organization. It’s not about you. It’s about serving your customers, and how well you do that brings long-term sustainable success to your company.
Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership. He is a speaker, advisor and nationally syndicated writer on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. Silverman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and an MBA degree from Drexel University. He is also an alumnus of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School.