Blog “We rise by lifting others” - Roger Ingersoll
© Making Business Sense Chronicles - 2020

To Gain Trust - You Must Lead By Example

As a new Leader, probably one of the hardest things to gain is the trust and respect of your workers. Whether you are an experienced leader and leading a new team of workers, or you are beginning your first position as a leader, you need to develop trust and respect from your workers. Sound fairly easy? Well, it can be if you approach it the right way, but it doesn’t happen overnight. While anyone can “talk the talk” as a leader you need to also “walk the talk” and “walk the walk.” This essentially means that you lead by example; you set the example for others to follow. Don’t ask anyone to do something you would not do, and conversely, don’t do anything that you would criticize your workers for doing. In essence, you need to constantly be aware of how others may perceive you. If you take over a new work group, or start with a new company, the workers around you will scrutinize everything about you until they are fairly certain that you are trustworthy. Everything you say and do is actually communicating what values you have and what values you personally and professionally feel are important. The other thing you have to concern yourself with is what was the previous management practice? Did they encourage cutting corners on quality or production to push the numbers and profit? How did they treat employees, with respect or by intimidation? Were they a “do as I say, not as I do” type of management? Or were they actually ethical and led by example? As you strive to get these new people behind you, you also have to consider whether you are trying to bring change to the system, in which case you are adding another factor inhibiting trust. When I was in management and took over a new section, I always worked on the trust and culture first before trying to make any changes. The reason to wait a little is you want the people to believe and trust in you, which will facilitate a positive change to be more welcome. It’s all in the approach you take. You will do your best if you create a culture of mutual respect and trust; involve your people in your plans and direction. Have them help brainstorm ideas to make the change you want to happen. Before you begin your journey in a leadership role, there are going to be some new habit and traits that you will need to develop and some old habits that you will need to break. In an article on “3 Habits to break before becoming a Leader” (Oct 3, 2016), author Marlene Chism offered the three habits that leaders need to shed prior to becoming a leader. The first “habit” or trait you need to get rid of is the feeling of “The Need to be Right.” While your ego may need this assertion, acting like you need to be right all the time, carrying this feeling will actually do damage to your credibility. Implying that you are all knowing and always right will inhibit group involvement and creative thinking. There is really no way that you alone can solve all the problems in the organization, or your department. Instead of trying to tell everyone how to solve the problem, step back and ask your team “how do you think we could best solve this problem?” Doing so opens the door for others to get involved, offer thoughts, and ensure a more probable cure by getting input from those who perform these tasks daily. Probably one of the less admirable traits that someone could easily fall into is the desire for recognition or to be the center of focus when you succeed in a project well done. We all have egos that we want stroked, however, one of the worst things you could do is to take all the credit and not acknowledge those who helped you be successful. At one of my previous places of employment, our department had been extremely successful in a project we had to complete for one of the major automotive manufacturers. At the monthly plant meeting, in front of all employees, I was handed the award for customer excellence. When I was allowed to speak, I merely said “I thank you all very much, but this award is not mine to own, but rather my team of people who put a lot of hard work into making this project the success that it was. They deserve the credit, I was merely the guide.” Sure, I could have been smug and said I worked hard on this to make it happen, and take all the credit. But what would my team have thought of me then? Respect me? Probably not. To be a good leader, and set the example, you don’t poke holes in others ideas or suggestions. You thank them and consider the possibilities, appreciate their input and never discourage their ideas. Most importantly, always make sure your entire team gets credit so that they know they are recognized and appreciated for their efforts. That act alone will buy you more loyalty than any other action on your part. Another rut that many leaders fall into is worrying that someone in their department will pass them by. They fear developing anyone because they worry that someone in the department will out do them. They don’t educate their people to be self-sufficient or allow them to have the complete knowledge to do the tasks because they fear not being needed, or simply they want to control everything. The result to this kind of action is that you will be in the position you are in for quite some time. The real key to getting promoted is to train all of your people so that they know exactly what they have to do to be successful. You develop the key people who show promise to be your replacement. Once you have someone strong in place that could carry on in your absence, you are actually pushing yourself upward. I knew of a couple people who didn’t get promoted, and when they asked why, were told we can’t spare you from that department, there is no one who can step in and take over. The greatest compliment I ever received is when I came back from a two week vacation and my boss told me, “If I didn’t know for a fact that you were on vacation, I would have never known you were gone, it ran that smoothly.” Some would view this as “oh no, I’m not needed, I’m probably on my way out.” For me, I was proud that my team produced normally and admirably in my absence. I thanked them as a group at our department meeting the day I got back. Two weeks later, I was pulled into the office and was told, your department doesn’t need you anymore, and we need you in a better spot. I was promoted thanks to my team doing so well, and because I didn’t believe in running around and propping them up. I taught them everything they had to know to keep things going properly. So in conclusion, in my opinion, if you want to be successful and grow as a leader – be a leader. Don’t manage, coach! Here are my simple guidelines to be a successful leader. 1. Everyone makes mistakes, even you, so remember that when you have to discuss an error with one of your people. 2. Believe in the golden rule, treat others the way you would want to be treated in that kind of situation. 3. Lead by example. Never ask anyone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. You can prove that easily. If there is a dificult task or dirty job to be performed roll up your sleeves and dig in alongside of them. Provide your support. 4. Listen to your people - ask them for their ideas, suggestions, opinions, etc. and solicit often. Even if you cannot use their ideas, at least they know their opinion is appreciated and valued. 5. Be humble, recognize that you are not perfect and no one is, therefore, don’t expect others to be. 6. Never lie to your people - always tell the truth, even if it is doom and gloom, present it to them honestly and as positive as you can. 7. Listen more before you speak, really hear what is being said to you. Don’t assume anything. 8. Every morning, take a few minutes and go around to all your people. Greet them, thank them for coming in, and ask if there is anything they need help with. 9. Ask rather than tell someone to do something. Which do you prefer, being told you had to do something, or being asked to do something. A simple “please” makes a worker feel better about doing the task. 10. Thank them for completing the task you asked. Everyone likes to be told “nice job” or “thank you for taking care of that, I appreciate it.” These little signs of respect and recognition will go a long way for you.

New Trends May Become Common Trends

Due to the multiple shutdowns of many of our businesses during the Covid Pandemic, businesses have had to find new ways to conduct business. Some of these innovations may result in a new trend in the business world. For example, many businesses have found that their workers are just as productive and in some cases, more productive working from home. As a result, some have learned that they can cut down office space and overhead by having their workers continue working from home. In some ways, this is good for the employee also who may no longer have to worry about paying for day care. So in short, both sides could benefit. There is also talk now of 4 day work weeks, working four, ten hour days – this too would cut overhead expenses.

Unhappy With Your Present Job?

We all know someone who has said, “I just hate my job. I hate that place, I just dread going to work half the time, wish I could find something better.” Maybe this even applies to you? Unhappy with your present job? The thing to first ask is, is it the job or the place where you work? If it’s the job you are doing that you dislike, then it’s time to consider another occupation or career; however, if it’s the place where you work, then that’s another issue. So now you need to ask yourself, can I make it work here, or is it time to look elsewhere.

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To Gain Trust - You Must Lead By Example New Trends May Become Common Trends Unhappy With Your Present Job?
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