After you have laid the foundation on a personal level as a leader you have to start looking outside yourself and figure out what it takes to me a successful leader to those around you. I think one of the most important traits a leader can have is knowing as a leader you can’t ask someone to do something you yourself wouldn’t do.
I think this starts with the simple things and still applies with the large things; from things like a dress code to things like expecting employees to stay late at the office. If you ask something of someone you aren’t willing to do yourself it makes your creditability and respect factor decrease. How can you be a positive leader if those around you don’t respect you or think you are creditable?
I have experienced both sides of the spectrum first hand, which makes me believe this is one of the first step to climbing the ladder of leadership. I worked for a company where there was a dress code, it was not necessary a formal dress code but a strict dress code. One of the made things was you could not wear open toed shoes or flip flops. Yet every day the management team came in wearing open toed sandals or flip flops. It was one of the first things I notice. They also used to ask employees to stay late because we were so busy and work needed to get done. But again the management team would leave after lunch and be gone the rest of the day, they would take every other Friday off, etc. As an employee it used to make me upset and made me have a low morale.
When the management would ask me to do something it used to make me resentful and ultimately it made me hate my job. How could this management team ask me to do things they wouldn’t do? That just didn’t seem fair.
One the flip side I worked for a company where they would say we don’t necessary like cell phone use or promote cell phone use but we are not going to tell you you can’t be on your cell phone because there will be times we will be on our cell phones and it would not be fair to tell you not to do something we as managers we are doing it. This is also the company where if it’s busy and you go by the office at 6pm on a Friday the management team is still there working.
Between the two companies you can see where management is successful. At the first company they have an extremely high turnover ratio and in the second company most employees have been there for over 15 years. It just goes to show that as a manager if you understand you can’t ask employees to do something you won’t do you will succeed at a much higher rate. When employees respect you as a leader they have much higher morale and when there is higher morale there is higher productivity and profit.
What is your take on this? Have you ever had a leader who ask something of you but didn’t do it themselves? Let me know your thoughts.