To be an extraordinary leader, you need to take care of the little things as well as big things necessary for your people to flourish, writes Geoffrey James of Inc.com.
Having interviewed dozens of very successful CEOs, James suggests eight ways you can emulate them:
• Encourage different viewpoints. The author comments: “Average bosses create teams where everyone thinks the same way. Extraordinary bosses seek to draw upon a multitude of viewpoints and opinions, and thereby better understand what’s happening in the market and what can be done to take advantage of the market conditions.”
• Don’t stick to tried and trusted. Don’t cling to products and processes because they have given you success in the past.
Great leaders know that the majority of products and services have a relatively short life expectancy before becoming obsolete or being usurped by something better.
Be open to change in the name of progress, even if it means giving up products and services that are satisfactory.
• Speak from the heart. Because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you have to be businesslike at all times, or remote with the people working under you. Don’t hide your true feelings or emotions with jargon or business-speak. Express your thoughts honestly and communicate your passion and goals with your employees. James emphasises that it’s OK to acknowledge your vulnerabilities and ask for help and understanding.
The author urges leaders to express gratitude when their team wins and commiserate rather than criticise when it loses.
• Be family friendly. Don’t view families as distractions for your employees.
According to James, a number of studies have demonstrated that productivity is greatly improved by on-site child care or flexible conditions that allow parents to work from home.
The author believes that leaders should strive to help employees become better connected to their families.
• Support and fund hands-on volunteerism. The author insists that “extraordinary bosses encourage group activities – like bake sales, benefit concerts, and school mentor programmes – that create social interaction, thereby building a stronger sense of community both within the company and with community at large”.
• Disperse power to reduce bureaucracy. According to James, too much centralised decision-making will create friction and red tape, which could slow growth. By dispersing power downwards, however, the author believes you can create a flatter, more adaptable organisation.