Leadership is essential for any organization to be successful. The leader exercises influence and communicates shared goals, creating a single vision that everyone drives toward as a unified team.

Every great organization has great leaders. Leadership is a skill that can and must be constantly developed. Many people mistakenly think that a person in a leadership role is automatically a leader. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being an owner or manager is a great responsibility. Your team pays attention to what you say and what you do. If you think something is important, so do they. It is very important that you act like a leader. You need to set the example for all to follow. Be on time to work, remain calm during a crisis, and act with integrity and professionalism at all times. Doing these types of things will let your team know what you value and deem important. The following skills will put you in a position to be an effective leader in your shop.

Communication

Leadership happens on the platform of effective communication. Active listening is the most difficult skill to master and the most important part of being a good communicator. We have all had those people who listen to what we are saying just long enough, and then respond in a way that tells us they did not hear anything we said. It’s like they waited to the end of our statement so they could blurt out their own opinion. Active listening has several components. Make good eye contact; this demonstrates you are paying attention and you care about what they are saying. Avoid the distractions in the environment; ignore cell phone noises, people moving throughout the room and any other potential distractions. Ask questions that follow up on what they said; rephrase and say, “So, if I understand what you’re saying, then we should…” This demonstrates you are getting the information they are sharing. When people are heard about their concerns you will have established trust and an improved relationship.

Stay connected to your team members. First thing in the morning, I like to go through the shop and talk with everyone one on one. See how they are doing. Ask how their kid did at the soccer game last night, or how their fishing trip was. Demonstrate real interest in what interests them. Share a personal story of your own. You will be more human and approachable to everyone on your team. Building these personal relationships will be instrumental to having real communication. Always ask your team for feedback. Be approachable and available to them at all times. Have a daily production huddle in the morning. Cover who is working on what, when certain parts are expected, cover anything that could be of interest that day. Ask for input from everyone. This will make them the feel like a team on a mission and also put you in the leadership role. Make it positive. Give them encouragement and appreciation. Use your active listening skills and really connect with your team through your leadership role.

Be Positive

There is a quote I like that seems befitting. “Being positive in a negative situation is not naïve, it is leadership,” according to Ralph Marston. To be an effective leader, you must have a positive mindset. Always look at any situation as an opportunity for improvement. It’s your job as a leader to remain strong, calm and positive in the face of adversity.

Be Trustworthy

Being trusted is an essential part of leadership. People will not follow those whom they do not trust. I have heard owners say that they were going to get a new piece of equipment for years without ever getting it. Imagine what their people think every time this topic comes up. They just stop believing what the leader says. People pay attention to what is said and what they see happening. Be accountable for what you say and what you do. If you introduce a vehicle inspection program, then follow through with it every single day. Demonstrate that when you say we are doing something, then you can bet on it. Be willing to admit when you are wrong. This creates trust. People appreciate that you will tell them the truth even when it is inconvenient. When you are a person of your word, you are worthy of trust, and people are far more likely to follow you. Being a leader is a big responsibility. Show your people that you are worthy by being a person of your word every day.

Learn to Delegate

One of the primary functions of leadership is to create other leaders. If we fail to create leaders within our company, we will continue to be the person who puts out fires every day. Most of us are type “A” personalities and think this is productive behavior. We get a sense of satisfaction from being the person with all the answers. While it can make us feel good about ourselves, it is not the way to grow a business. The ideal situation would be for your business to function well in your absence. The only way to get to that next level is to create leaders within your organization through delegation. Give your people clear directives on what needs to be done. Hold them accountable for the results and have a timeline. Check with them regularly on their progress. Without an action plan, things will fall by the wayside. Any time that anyone comes to you to “call the ball” ask them what they would do if you were not available. This forces them to exercise their own judgment and you will send the message that you have confidence in their ability to function independently.

Invest in Your Team

Leading your team is all about vision. You have to lead toward what your vision is for your company and each team member’s part of that vision. As the leader, you must be making progress in every segment of business development. The most important part of business growth is developing everyone on your team. Zig Ziglar once said, “You don’t build a business, you build people, and people build the business.” Investing in training will encourage your people and give them hope for the future. You employ them with new skills and demonstrate your confidence in them through investing in them. Training is a good retention tool. Your team will know that you value them and their confidence will continue to increase. They will be better prepared to do their jobs and begin to lead others.

Have a Vision

You should always be looking toward the future and steering your company. Going to work and just surviving the day is not going to make you or your business successful. Anticipate business trends in your area and meet the needs. Look at where the industry is going, and figure that into your plan. Too many business owners let the business run them. This may have worked in the past, but in the future, businesses must be run by leaders with a strong vision and the leadership skills to ACCELERATE YOUR SUCCESS!