Thursday, May 27, 2010

If You Are Looking For a Competitive Edge, Start With Leadership

---True Story About Leadership---

I was anxious and excited.
It was my first day as Store Manager at a new location.
As I entered the store, smile on my face and notebook and pencil in hand, I mentally prepared myself to meet new customers and employees.

Top of mind was the new “Cleaning” initiative that the company was going through, and my approach would be to talk with employees and department heads about the status of the project as I toured the store.
I was very intrigued, as I walked from department to department, to find that everyone was saying the same type of thing. “Denny has us on top of it”, “Oh yes, we make sure we follow the checklist, wouldn’t want to upset Denny”, and “Nice to meet you, and if you see Denny ask him to stop by, we have some questions”.
Of course my confidence level peaked knowing that Denny, probably a co-manager, was on top of things, and really had the store’s team engaged in the new initiative.

When I finally got upstairs where the offices were located, I asked my Human Resources Manager for a list of the store’s department heads and managers.
After reviewing the list, I turned to Debbie (the HR Manager), and said,
“Does Denny go by a different name? I don’t see him on this list”.
She looked at me, quite puzzled, and said,
“Our Denny? ... He’s the Janitor.”

Denny was not a manager or a department head and had never aspired to be one.
Denny, however, was a leader, and was clearly filling a void that was left empty by the management team.

This realization convinced me that leadership is found in the person and not in the position.
Take a hard look at your management team. Are they inspiring their teams to do the job?
Or are they just simply assigning work.
In today’s economy, more than ever, business owners and executives need their managers and department heads to be Leaders.

Here are seven quick tips to help you identify Leaders:

1. Leaders have passionate enthusiasm! Attitudes are contagious and your team “leaders” need to understand that they are role models.

2. Leaders model your company’s values and “walk the talk.”

3. Leaders pull their teams up the hill, face them, and don’t turn their backs.
Old school managers push employees.

4. Leaders are not necessarily the best workers,
and they understand that the “task” is never more important than the customer.

5. Leaders develop others, place a high value on the “we,” and discourage the “I.”

6. Leaders understand when people need to be led and when to let people take the lead.

7. Leaders listen and provide positive reinforcement and constructive criticism.

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