Leadership is a gift, and with it comes great responsibility. For those of you in a leadership position, you may not always look at it as a gift, per-se. Being in a leadership position is hard—it bestows upon you a great deal of stress, and can often lead to frustration, and at times, the feeling that someone else would be better off for the job. But that’s just not true. There’s a reason that you’re in a leadership position. Below are 10 fundamental principles of leadership. There are many others, but these are the ten that form the basis of good leadership and ultimately, high performing teams
- Be consistent.
This can be said for a number of facets within the workplace, but it's especially important when diving into your mission. If you're not clear on what your business is all about—the very backbone of it all, and what you're doing to ensure that your mission comes to fruition—then those under you cannot possibly have a clear vision of your brand. If you’re not fully consistent in this regard, it’s impossible for your subordinates to know what you believe.
2 . Listen.
While seemingly obvious, this one often gets overlooked. Perhaps for sheer lack of time when it comes to those in charge—we understand, you’re under the gun on deadlines, have multiple meetings a day, and are trying to divvy up work for your employees—taking time to listen is crucial. Pay attention to what's happening around you, even if it means stopping for a second and taking a glance around the office. Encourage those whose contributions may otherwise go unnoticed; your staff wants to further the wellbeing of your business just as much as you do. Listening to what they have to say about the work could mean the world to them, and ultimately, it’ll benefit your business.
- Be encouraging.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the ins and outs of the day to day, especially when you’re in a leadership role. However, don’t forget about the people under you. They are, after all, your teammates. Highlight the small victories of your employees... you don't know how important it is for them to hear even small congratulations now and again. While that might seem trivial to you, it's not. It's important beyond measure to help your team understand that they are an intricately necessary part of the process. And if your workers are doing what they're supposed to—good work—they deserve to be, at least in some sense, commended.
- Be innovative.
Innovation keeps things exciting. It can be scary, yes—the unknown is never a surefire path towards success—but the people looking for the new and inspiring are those who make the most important discoveries. Time Magazine online wrote an article earlier this year entitled: 5 Leadership Lessons From Mark Zuckerberg and Other Top CEOs. They explain, "It takes courage, self-confidence and persistence... great leaders want to be great leaders and are willing to do what it takes to get there.” These innovators are the same people who change the world for the better… and there’s something to be said for that, no?
- Take care of yourself.
If you’re sick, don’t come to work. It’s that simple. Sneezing your way through the workday doesn’t do anyone any favors, and it gives the wrong impression to your team, too. If you should be in bed drinking tea, get into bed and drink some tea. Rest up for the next day, at which point you can get back out there and take care of business. Your team will have your back in the interim.
- Take care of your team.
In the same way that you should take care of yourself, it’s important that you take care of your team, too. Their wellbeing, be it physical, emotional, or mental, is just as important as your own. After all, while you may be the backbone of the business, they’re the ribs—they help keep everything together.
- Adapt to change.
…and even encourage it. Change is good. In fact, switching things up is the only way we can be sure we’re actually doing something right! If we always keep things at the status quo, it’s impossible to know whether or not aspects of our work-world need to be altered. Something not feel quite right? Flush it out. Switch out one of your team members whose quality of work has become stagnant, for example, and see if they'd be better off fulfilling a different set of tasks. Adapt, go with the flow, and you’ll see success.
- Lose the ego.
A certain level of benevolence in the workplace, especially when it comes from the person in a leadership role, can be a game changer. As a boss, being driven and having a certain amount of stick-to-itiveness is of the utmost important—yes, we’re not denying that. But equally important is having the humility to act remarkably human alongside your team. It’s not always necessary to be in boss-mode. In fact, that makes it quite difficult for your subordinates to see you as an ally. Instead, throw away your ego and always work as a diligent member of the team—as if you, too, could be shown the door at any second!
- Be accountable.
Any declining business will almost definitely have a leader who fails to take accountability. Honest leadership is the most important type of leadership. Instead of blaming team members, honest, strong leaders seek to find any and all issues underlying a problem. They look for input, and take responsibility instead of placing blame (even, at times, when blame could be assigned).
- Be positive.
Last, but certainly not least: be positive. Positivity always goes a long way (often times, significantly longer even than you may think). Be kind, encouraging, and courageous in your endeavors. Your team, your clients, and your psyche will thank you.
Do you practice these lessons in your leadership role? Are you a member of a team and want to become a leader somewhere down the line? Well, following these tips will make for a good start for anyone in the professional world. And if you’re looking for some further reading on the subject, perhaps look at Napoleon Hill's famous piece, "The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons." In his timeless book from 1925, Hill crystalizes how to succeed from a self-help perspective—something we could all stand to learn a bit more about.