The business landscape is evolving faster than ever seen before in history. That's why it's crucial, as a business leader, that you focus on growing your inspirational leadership skills. Inspirational leadership skills are what will drive not only yourself, but your team, through the uncertain future. You must look forward, and look at the possibilities that lie ahead.
Here are the inspirational leadership skills that will drive you through the near future and beyond. Remember, you need to implement them in your daily life for them to work.
The world is going to change, so we can either get on the bus and go with it, or we can let the bus pass us by and then wonder why we never did anything about it. You don't need to like change, but if it's something that's necessary to keep your lights turned on, you'd better adapt to it, and quickly.
Think Before You React
Give yourself that ever so essential, 10-seconds of thinking time before you say or do anything that may negatively impact an already bad situation. Mistakes are going to happen; it's inevitable, so learn to be patient, and you'll have an opportunity not to compound an already bad situation. The idea is to provide a positive experience for everyone involved.
Respect People for Who They Are
We're all human beings. Toss any negative judgments out the window. Yes, people are going to have their own opinions, but as a business leader, you need to stay respectful and unbiased, regardless of the situation. The world is way too small of a place not to respect someone for what they believe to be true.
Be Forgiving and Understanding
Let me put it this way, "Stuff happens." Flat tires, kids being sick, you being sick, parents getting older, vacations, and everything else under the sun. The best thing you can do is sit back and listen when someone is explaining what's going on. There's a big difference between enabling and loving. Enabling is continuing to put up with the junk behavior, and loving is telling the employee that you realize what's going on, that you're not going to put up with anymore, and that if they don't change, they're going to be gone. Give people a chance to correct negative behavior.
It's Ok if It's Not Perfect
Not everything is always going to be 100% correct. Sometimes you need to go with what you have ready now, and then learn as you go. If you're aiming for perfection, you're most likely going to get paralysis by analysis, and you're probably never going to get anywhere. You can plan all you like, but you'll never know until you start to execute the plan, to see if it works.
Take Small Steps
Hit a few singles first, before you start swinging for a home run every time you're up to bat. Look at business steps like you're walking to your bedroom upstairs in your home; if you try and jump two or three steps, you're most likely going to fall, but if you take it one step at a time, you're not going to have any issues. Taking too big of a bite may put you in an unrecoverable situation where you'll lose everything.
Say It Exactly How It Is
There's no reason to beat around the bush, ever. Being straightforward is always the best way, but you never want to be rude or ignorant to anyone. There are always ways to get your point across while being firm, without chopping someone down at the knees. It's not something that you'd like done to you, so don't do it to anyone else either. Get right down to the point, say what you need to say, and then move forward in conversation from that point.
Hire the Best Person for the Job
Just because someone has all the qualifications in the world, it doesn't mean they're going to be a good fit for your company. Take the time to hire the person who will work best with your other team members, even if they're not as qualified. Don't worry; when great team members surround great people, they'll learn whatever they need to, and quickly. Great companies are run by great people.
Give people that work at your company an opportunity to grow. If you want people to stick around, you need to provide them with exciting opportunities to challenge themselves and make some serious money. If an employee comes to you with a great idea, let them run with it, support them, provide them with guidance, and if they need a little funding, give it to them. Creating a team environment helps employees feel like they're an integral part of a greater whole, and when they feel like this, their creativity and productivity will go through the roof.
Let Employees Work Where They Work Best
Let them get their groove on. Some people work best in the office, some work best listening to music, some work best at home, whatever it is, it's ok, let employees work wherever, and whenever they want, so they can be most productive. The most important aspect is that they're getting their work done, to the best of their ability, on time. It's a simple concept; don't make it more difficult than it is.
Put a Meaning Behind an Employees Work
Let them know the importance of their work. Is it going to change a life? Is it going to help a business be more productive? Is it going to help improve the standard of living for people living in poverty? Whatever it is, make sure your employees understand that how what they're working on is going to make a difference.
Be Personable and Let Your Guard Down
It's ok to show emotion. If your upset about something, let your team know what caused the issue, how it's making you feel, and what everyone can do moving forward so that it doesn't happen again. Let people into your life, learn about them, let them learn about you, and create enriching memories that will last a lifetime.
Even in the worst of situations, there's no time to throw the towel in and lose confidence. There's always a solution. If you haven't found the solution, you haven't looked hard enough yet. Your team needs you as the leader, and if your knees buckle, it's going to be like dominoes falling behind you. Never let them see you sweat, and always exude confidence, even if you have to fake it sometimes.
Develop Strong Partnerships
Having strong partnerships is significant in the big scope of things. The saying, "It's not what you know, but who you know," can definitely play to your advantage. Look to grow every relationship you have. Leave no stone unturned. I'm not talking about selling some pyramid scheme to every person you know, making them feel uncomfortable every time they see you. What I'm talking about is making every relationship count by being the person that they can count on when needed.
Keep it Simple
Making things more complicated than they need to be is just going to make things more difficult. The simpler, the better. If your compensation plan is difficult to understand, employees are not going to buy into it, and you're going to lose good people. You don't want to set so many rules and regulations that every time someone goes to do something, they have to make sure they're following the rules. Let people be themselves, by keeping how you run your business, simple.
Learn From Setbacks
In my life, I always say, "I never lose, because I always take away a lesson." You can do the same. Yes, I get that you lost that big competitive contract that you were bidding on, but look to see what you learned from the experience, write down notes on what you can do differently next time, and then stay in front of the prospect until the next time they're going to send the contract out to bid again. Once the bid goes out, use your previous knowledge to give yourself a competitive advantage over your competition.
Dump Bad Relationships
If you have an employee that's not pulling their weight, or maybe their negative attitude is just starting to bring other people down, it may be time to dump them and move on. There's no time in business to have negative, disrespectful, or undisciplined employees around the office. You work too hard and pay way too much money to have people ruining what you fought so hard to build.
Not setting goals for yourself, as well as your employees, is like driving your car at night with your headlights turned off. Yes, you may ultimately get to where you wanted to go, but your vehicle may be all dented and banged up because you were driving in the woods half the time. Make it easy for yourself by taking a few minutes at the start of the year, to write down a few simple goals. Then check up on them every month to make sure things haven't changed or that you're not too far off track. Make the needed adjustments, when required, to meet and exceed every goal you've set.
Beware of Hype
The next best, most exciting software, product, or service, may not be the best for your company, especially if it's a long-term commitment and it's going to cost you a lot of money. Let the candle burn a little bit and let the first-time adopters spend their money and do all the testing for you. Learn from them, listen to feedback, and then, and only then, if you feel that the software, product, or service is a good fit, decide to start using it. To put it simply, "Hype is excitement, and when people get excited, they stop thinking clearly, and when people stop thinking clearly, they get burned." Don't be one of these people that loses the ability to think clearly because of the hype.
Be Courageous Enough to Make an Unpopular Decision
It's not easy to make a tough decision, especially when personal friendships that have been made in business are at stake. When you have an employee that's just not working out, or a client that's not the right fit, and they run in the same circles that you do, it may be challenging to have a candid conversation in regards to what direction you'd like to go without them, but if you do it for the right reasons, and your upfront, everything will work out better for everyone involved in the long run.
Bring the Wow Factor
Be the business leader that everyone says, "Wow, he's a fabulous person to be around. He always comes through on what he says, and he's never let me down." When you bring the wow factor, your customers will do all your selling for you. When a customer gives you a warm handoff to a friend that may be looking for what you sell, you'll be in great shape to lock up the deal. Be the superior provider of products and services, and bring the wow factor with your customer service.
Always Be Looking Forward
There's not enough time to be driving out of the rearview mirror. Look forward, see as far as you can, and then use data, faith, and your gut to help you make the next right decision. Don't rush into any big decisions without fully thinking and playing them out first. It's always a good idea to bounce ideas off team members so that you can get some constructive feedback.
Show Up to Win
The first part of success, "Is showing up." The second part, "Is showing up to win." You need to bring the physical body, as well as your rational emotions, to every important business meeting and event that you attend. Showing up and moping around is not going to keep your employees enthusiastic; what is going to keep them excited, is you sharing a positive and exciting outlook on business. I know you've met that magnetic person that everyone wants to speak with — well, you can be that person if you wish to — all you need to do is reach your hand out and smile wide.
Stay Mentally Fit
A mentally fit person, i.e., a well-balanced individual, definitely has a clear and distinct advantage over someone that's irrational and unbalanced. Empower employees to get mentally fit, share the benefits with them, and provide them a platform where they have an opportunity to engage in activities that help clear their mind of all the clutter. Yoga, working out, walking, running, and meditation, are all great and easy ways to get mentally fit. It's all about balance here, not only in business, but in your personal life as well.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
If someone does something outstanding, give them credit for what they did. No one likes a person that takes all the credit for everything. That'd be called a braggart, and that's not good. You don't need to go over the top with acknowledgment, but it's imperative to give credit where credit is due. A simple note will suffice, or a simple conversation in which you recognize what they did, in front of their peers, is very productive as well.
Be an Instigator for Change
As the business landscape changes, you need to adjust, adapt, and change as well. Be out in front of trends, learn what actions you can take today so that you're set up for long-term business success in the future. Initiate change within your organization and let employees know why it's crucial to get on board.
Get creative here, and don't limit yourself. Even if your office is in your garage right now, or you don't have any employees yet, dream about what you want to achieve in business, while laying out paths that will get you there; then wake up every morning like your hair is on fire and go out and get it. You can achieve a heck of a lot more than what you think you can, so set that bar super high.
Never Settle for Anything Less Than Great Effort
If you look at great athletes, as well as great business leaders, you'll see a common trait amongst them, and that trait is effort. Putting forth strong effort will help hide your weaknesses, and it will give you a distinct competitive advantage. Effort, matched with a little bit of smarts, will take you to many magical places.
If you haven't bought into what you're doing and it's not bringing joy to your life, it's not right for you. When a situation isn't right for you, you'll go home at the end of every day, not feeling fulfilled, and when you don't feel fulfilled, you won't be happy. When you're not satisfied, you'll have a negative attitude, and when you have a negative attitude, it's going to affect everyone around you. Simply put, "Do what you love."
Be Bold and Unique
It's all about differentiating yourself, and the only way to do that is by you not doing what everyone else is doing. Just because a competitor wears 3-piece suits when they go and visit clients, doesn't mean that you have to as well. Conforming to the standard mold is not always best practice when you're running a cutting edge business. You don't need to be crazy or outlandish in terms of being bold and unique — you just need to be smart about it.
Look at the Big Picture
Don't let one situation or employee drag you down. There's so much more to the big picture when it comes to running a business. So what if one project failed, learn from it, put together a new plan, and go out and make it happen. Whether or not you know it, failing is part of succeeding. It sounds strange, but it's true. The goal is to rack up more successes than failures, so that you'll ultimately end up on the positive end of things.
Life can get employees down, the business can get employees down, they can get you down as well, but don't let them. Be the inspirational leader that provides encouragement and reaches out a helping hand when someone needs it most. Let them know whatever feelings they're currently having will eventually pass, and that you'll be there to support them through to the end. People need people. There's nothing more fulfilling than helping someone else feel fulfilled and seeing that sparkle in their eye.
Let People Be Who They Are
If someone is quirky, let them be who they are. All that matters is that the employee is adding value to your organization. The goal for you as a leader is to bring the most out in people, while letting them be who they are, not for you to be best friends with everyone. If they don't work like you, it doesn't matter — what matters is that they're getting their work done on time, and adequately.
Be True to Yourself
If you want to be unhappy, do something that you genuinely don't love for an extended time. There's no hiding it; if you're unhappy, everyone in your life, employees, wife, husband, partner — will feel it. You need to be true to yourself and get involved with a business that you love. Money will only take you so far along your path to success because success is a total sum of life, i.e., happiness, health, wealth, relationships, and spirituality.
Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously
I know you think you're the big shot, and you probably are, but don't act like it. Relax a bit, don't take yourself so seriously, and just be a normal human being that shows emotions and has feelings. Walking around being stern and serious all the time is no fun. People like funny people — so laugh with your employees. If you trip and fall in front of everyone, don't worry about it; laugh along and move on, no matter how embarrassed you are.
Always Talk it Out
This is psychology 101. If you don't talk about what happened, and you brush it under the carpet, nothing is ever going to get resolved. Resentments will build, employees will feel like they're mistreated, and you're going to end up losing good relationships that may have been able to be saved had you talked it out. No communication is bad communication, and bad communication leads to unhappy employees, so take the time needed to work out issues.
Let Your Passion Shine Through
Trying to build a business that you genuinely aren't passionate about is not going to work very well. People want to buy from passionate people. They want to buy from people that can transfer the feeling of excitement to them and put them in the driver's seat. Passion has to start with you, in the top leadership role of the company. If you're walking around like a zombie, your employees are going to follow suit. Be the excitement, transfer that positive energy, and lead by the actions you take, not the words you say.
Everyone likes a good laugh. I'm not asking you to put on a 30-minute comedy show here, but I am asking you to be human and have some fun with business situations. If you can get someone laughing and associate with them, you'll break down all kinds of barriers, and very quickly. Just another quick reminder, which I know you already know, stay away from sticky topics, i.e., religion, politics, and such, as jokes around these topics can be misconstrued easily.
Focus on the Task in Front of You
Have a laser beam focus when you're working. There's no need to check your email every 5-minutes; you're not a brain surgeon — there are many more important things you need to focus on rather than waiting for some magical person to send you a magical email. Do one task at a time for best results. You may not think that you'll get more done by doing it this way, but over time, you'll see that you do.
Share Your Experiences
Your whole life is an experience, so share it with your employees. If you did something stupid when you were a kid, let them know what it was and laugh about it. If you did something smart when you were first starting in business, and think it'd help an employee if you shared it with them, then do so. A great personal story can make a big difference in helping someone else out. Just because you went through something, doesn't mean that they have to go through it as well.
Go the Distance
See projects all the way through to the end. First, if you don't start, you'll never finish. Second, if you start, and then you stop, you'll never finish either. You have to go the distance, no matter what conditions or circumstances you've been presented with; it's not where you're from, it's where you're at, so make the most of it.
Be Invested in Your Local Business Community
You need to give back. If you look back at how you became successful, you'll see that you owe a lot of people for giving you an opportunity and a chance to do business with them. Build your office in a community where you can have plenty of opportunities for everyone in your company to get involved. Painting a fence, cleaning up a park, or helping build a house for someone in need, will get everyone feeling like they're on a winning team, and when that happens, there is no limit to how successful your company can be.
That's all of my inspirational leadership tips for now. Just going back through all these points gets me fired up. I can do a better job of leading, you can do a better job of leading, and combined, we can all make better business decisions together. There's no better way to run a company than running it with inspiration and hope. Look forward, implement the inspirational leadership tips that you've learned here, and endless possibilities will lie ahead for you.
Brandon Schaefer: Leadership Development
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