Thursday, April 24, 2014

Developing Your Future Leaders Part 7… Even More Traits That Describe Leadership

Even More Traits That Describe Leadership

Problem solving:  defined as finding solutions to overcome obstacles, to find a way around, or through difficulties.  Again, I think that this is one of the easier qualities for us to recognize in our team members.  We usually hear about it after the problem has been solved, when a team member explains how they achieved the outcome.  It may be after we ask why it was late, or in a form we didn’t expect.  You may find that many of your team members were affected by some unexpected event. At best, the work of some was delayed, and at worst the work of others stopped.  Then you will likely have one or two who found a way to continue working and get done on time.  These are the people you want by your side.

The people who are good problem solvers will have varied backgrounds, they will have connections outside of the department, and they will be open minded.  These people will have read and be familiar with any training materials they received, and they will know more about the machinery/systems/materials you use than most other team members.  Sometimes they will come to you to ask if they can skip steps; add steps; change the order; or alter a process… if at all possible your answer should be ‘yes, of course… let me know how it’s going’.  These are the people who will help your business grow.

Relationship building:  defined as the ability to identify and initiate working relationships, ability to find and maintain a mutual understanding.  In your team members, you will have a few who seem to know, and be known by an unusually large number of their coworkers.  Alternatively, it may not be that large a number, and they will have developed connections to people outside of their normal work group.  Most people, if asked, will have a high regard for team members with this quality, and they will find them trustworthy.

The people you want will not be involved in gossiping, so you will not usually find them in the normal gossip group.  These people will probably have a positive attitude, and they will usually be wearing a smile.  In fact, they will probably have spent at least a little time attempting to develop a relationship with you.  They will be the ones who ask if you have kids, where you grew up, and what’s the next move for you… not necessarily all work related stuff… they will be the ones who want to get to know you.  In my opinion, as well as in my experience, relationship building and Trust are really what Leadership is all about.  I don’t believe that one can call themselves Leaders if they cannot trust and/or are not able to build relationships.  If you find these two qualities in any of your team members, find the time to take them under your wing and help them develop their strengths.

Self-confidence/self esteem:  defined as a feeling of trust in ones own abilities, a realistic view of ones own ability and power.  Hmmm… this one can throw some of us off.  I don’t believe that people will follow anyone who is not confident in their abilities, judgment, and qualities.  And at the same time we all know a number of people with inflated egos, who believe that they are God’s gift to everything. 

I don’t think it’s very difficult to weed out those people in our search for Leadership qualities in our team members.  However, some of us may not be as confident in ourselves as we would like.  So it can be easy for us to feel that someone with an appropriate level of self-confidence is showing conceit, and an excessive sense of their worth.  This is something that only you can see and evaluate.  Each of us must be honest with ourselves, listen to how we judge ourselves, assess our own self-talk, and make a determination about our own self-confidence.  Only then can we safely and honestly judge the self-confidence of those around us. 

Now… we still have to identify actions that describe the quality of self-confidence, don’t we?  Self-confident people are less influence by their peers, and tend to make better decisions.  They will not be jumping into the spotlight, or bragging.  We will often see self-confidence and self-responsibility together in the same people.  These people will not go with the flow if it is negative, divisive, or works against their own goals.  In fact, they will often be the ones taking a stand against the grain of the rest of the team, only because they are not afraid to be wrong.  They will be the ones who don’t need much assistance, however when they do they will not hesitate to ask for help.  They will be the team members who admit their mistakes, and if they joke it will be at their own expense.

Self-discipline:  defined as the ability to do what one thinks is right, control of oneself and one’s conduct.  Or… doing what you don’t want to do now, so later you can do what you want to do.  People who are disciplined will have their own goals, and will not be wasting time at work.  They will not often be late, nor will they be likely to be hanging around after work.  They will not make excuses for themselves, and will often be some of your hardest workers.  They will stay on task, and follow through. 

They will generally follow rules without having to be told twice.  They will probably be very involved in some sport or activity after work.  They will be the team members who show emotional intelligence.  They are team members who do not take short cuts, at least without asking first. 
Servanthood:  defined as a person who performs duties for others, a person in the service of another.  At work, servant Leadership is the desire to do for others… to help others achieve their goals, to help them grow as people, help them become healthier, wiser, and more autonomous.  As for finding servanthood in our team members, we will be looking for the people who do for others before themselves.  If there is a line for food or treats, look to the back of the line… not at those who are a little put off that they are at the back, but at those who look as though they chose to be there (and they just may have).

When in a group setting, you will look for those who make sure the needs of the other members of the group are met, and that everyone is heard.  They may be heard making sure the group understands that any action they take should be for the greater good.  Just as we find gold by looking for the rock with which it is often found, we can look to other qualities and be likely to find servanthood.   We should look for humility, authenticity, and empathy.  These people will be long-term thinkers, and much less interested in anything short term.   They will encourage their coworkers, and will often help others with issues outside of work.

Teachability:  defined as able and willing to learn, capable of being taught.  We might also say humility, and they are not exactly the same thing.  The people who are teachable will be open to the ideas of others, and listen much more than they talk.  They will admit it when they are wrong, and have no problem talking about what went wrong, as well as what to do differently next time.  They will also freely ask questions, and ask for directions.

These people will take criticism with ease, and will be able to change their behavior quickly and with a smile.  Doing what they are asked to do is no problem, and does not involve their ego.

So these are some of the ways in which we find Leadership qualities in our team members.  After over 30 years of hiring and developing hourly team members, I have come to believe that pretty much every one of us has one or more of these qualities in varying degrees.  As Leaders, our job is to seek and find these qualities in our team members; acknowledge and help develop them; and for hiring Leaders, hire for them.

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