In 1936, a book by Dale Carnegie was published. The title was How to Win Friends and Influence People, and the initial 5000 copies sold out quickly. By 1955, when Dale Carnegie died, 5 million copies of the book had been sold.
The Dale Carnegie Institute became a mammoth organization, providing courses on leadership, self-improvement, and salesmanship. Warren Buffet took the course and has his diploma framed on the wall of his office.
The principles of leadership that came from this book remain universal and unchanging, despite the wide variety of leadership styles and theories proposed over the years.
There is a lot to learn from this book, certainly for those who are in or want to be in leadership positions in today’s work environment. And newer leadership theory and practices have supported and enhanced this earlier exert.
The old arguments between uses of power vs. uses of influence are dead. Effective leaders today know that productivity is built upon trust, honesty, openness, and collaboration. It is built upon serving as opposed to being served.
Here are the key traits in leadership that will result in success for people and for the organization they serve.
Begin by Knowing Your People at a Personal Level
The days are long gone when a boss sits in his office and issues directives to his team members. Today’s work environment requires teams of professionals who work collaboratively and a leader who is an integral part of that team every step of the way.
A team that is effective has members who know each other professionally and on somewhat of a personal level. They celebrate events in each other’s personal lives and support one another in times of sorrow and crisis.
A leader must be a part of these personal relationships. If a team member has a family crisis, a leader will need to know this and take appropriate steps to be genuinely supportive.
Listen Far More Than You Speak
It is a sign of self-confidence when a leader asks important questions and then closes his mouth and listens to what his team members have to say. It demonstrates that he values what they have to say. It shows that s/he understands that one person does not have all of the answers.
It builds trust and openness – critical pieces for a group to work productively together. Insecure leaders do all of the talking.
Be On the Field When the Players are There
Servant leadership has, as its core, the concept that a leader behaves as a servant as well one who is ultimately in charge. This means that when there are large and complex tasks at hand, the leader asks as much of him/herself as is being asked of the team members.
Thus, a servant leader ensures that if resources are required, those resources are secured. If team members are working late, the leader is present, working as well.
Recognize Team Successes As Just Those
The confident and effective leader is generous with praise and recognition when there are successes, and s/he is public about it. An insecure leader takes credit for successes, but is willing to spread the blame when failures occur.
The end result is that there is no loyalty on the part of employees to this individual. When loyalty and trust are lost, so is productivity.
Entertain and Encourage Diverse and Unusual Options/Suggestions
Teams exist to get work done efficiently and successfully. Within that work, there will be challenges, roadblocks, and large and complex problems to solve. The effective leader will encourage his/her team members to think outside of the box and to be creative with their suggestions.
When employees believe that their ideas are of value, they are far more prone to speak up and propose solutions. Often, solutions come from an employee who is a creative thinker.
Promote Professional Development of Team Members
Leaders who are comfortable in their positions and who feel secure will encourage and provide additional education and training to their team members.They delight in such growth and serve as mentors at all times. Through mentoring and providing opportunities for growth, a leader is able to influence outcomes.
Be Honest at all Times
Even when the news is bad, a good leader reveals as much as s/he is able to team members. There is no room for “fudging” the truth either. If things are not going as planned or a team member is not pulling his/her weight, these issues must be addressed. But they need to be addressed privately and calmly.
And if a team member does not work out, then the tough decision to terminate must be made. But that decision should come as no surprise to the employee if honesty has been the “rule” all along.
A leader who adopts these 7 principles and behaviors will be in a position to influence his/her team members. And when influence gets results, those results are long-lasting.
How Can Leaders Influence?
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