Continuing on my quest in promoting my latest book Leadership Is/Isn't Easy shamelessly, which also includes following up on an article I wrote two posts ago titled Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, The Standalone Book & The Answer…, I thought I'd give some ways that could make leadership easy for folks who don't get it. Because I like odd numbers, and 9 is my 2nd favorite number, we're going with that.

IMCOM Central Regional Director Visit Sept. 2014
Presidio of Monterey
via Compfight

1. Greet people in the morning and throughout the day.

This might seem trite but being nice and open with as many people as you can during the day makes you seem approachable. As a leader, that's a big benefit because if you're approachable, people will at least listen to what you have to say.

2. Become a great listener.

There are a lot of posts that tell leaders to listen to their employees but I'm going to go just a bit further. Unless an employee is yelling at you because they're out of control (they don't have to be mad at you; I've been there), it's always best to listen to what any employee has to say without interruption; at least the first time around.

Often we have a tendency to want to interrupt someone, either because we want to address a specific point early or because we want to clarify what someone is saying before we allow them to continue.

Those aren't bad reasons but, if you've noticed, when you do that you either throw off their train of thought or you inadvertently keep things going longer than they need to. You will have your chance to clarify and respond when they're through, and showing someone that you paid attention will get you a bit of respect.

3. Tell everyone what your goal is.

Once again, this seems like a simple thing... only it's something that many leaders rarely do.

As a consultant, I've walked into many situations where things are out of control, and come to find out that the only goal is to bring more money in, reduce accounts receivable, or solve issues where people are fighting with each other. Sure, those who bring me in want me to fix things for them, but rarely do they have a specific goal for anyone to work on.

It's always better to set the standard that you want to shoot for, then tell everyone what that standard it. Depending on your time frame, you can go for short term goals or set an aggressive long term goal; I've done both. What this does is lets everyone know what you're hoping for and what their role towards the goal is going to be.

hospitality mgmt banquet_04072014_0073
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4. Get out of your office and mingle a little bit.

I've known managers who come into the main office, go into their little office, and either never leave during the day (meals notwithstanding) or only leave when they have meetings in other spaces. Some people believe the only time they should interact with employees is when they have to chastise them for something.

Instead, why not show some interest in what everyone is doing? Not only does this show them you care, but if you have supervisors reporting to you it's a way of finding out if they're actually telling you everything that's going on. It's possible they might not know themselves, and you can't ever fix what you don't know about.

5. Leave your door open as much as possible, and for the right reason.

Some managers come in every day and keep their door closed. Some come in and leave their door open because they want to hear what's going on, as in spying on people. Employees aren't stupid; either one of these generates distrust.

What I've found is that it's better to leave the door open unless you're having a meeting with someone where you might need to close the door. Let employees see you at your desk working, even if sometimes your work is just sitting there thinking of ways to address issues that are occurring or before they happen.

6. Share your thoughts with others and allow them to give you feedback.

People got used to seeing me in my office sometimes just staring at the wall while I had music on in the background and a yellow pad in front of me. They didn't think I was just sitting there doing nothing because every once in a while I was stop in a room where a few of them were and tell them what I was thinking.

Because I was open to the experience, I would ask them what they thought. I didn't get a lot of feedback all the time, but they appreciated that I ran things by them. They knew that any success we had would show everyone in a good light. Every once in a while someone came up with an idea that helped me refine my thoughts; after all, if someone is actually doing the work on a daily basis, you'll find that their input can be very valuable.

David Nabarro visits Monrovia, Liberia
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7. When you get back from meetings, share anything that came up that could be useful.

You can't share everything from every meeting you go to, especially if it's an executive meeting. With most other meetings, there's almost always something you can share with members of your department that affects them in some way. Sometimes it's feedback that helps them out. Sometimes it's feedback about something they've been missing.

Truthfully, I think the best feedback is when someone had a negative thought in one of these meetings, you addressed it and got it taken care of, and then you go back and tell your employees about it, probably not mentioning any names. When your employees know you've got their back, they'll give you their loyalty.

8. Find ways to keep the lines of communication and information open.

I always tried to keep my employees informed of what I'd learned that could help them do their jobs, whether it was via mail, meetings or phone calls. I did walk around and talk to people, but I didn't let it stop there.

Initially I started out with a weekly newsletter, which I'd give to the supervisors and ask them to pass them out to the folks who reported to them. My goal there was to make sure everyone had all new information written down so they couldn't say I'd forgotten to tell them of any changes. Later, when email came around, I sent out information that way, which made it easier on me and saved us some money on paper.

I also had meetings with different groups of employees every 1 to 3 months, depending on the job they did. I'd always tell them ahead of time to bring any questions with them that we could address. I also had a set time frame; meetings started on time and ended either on time or earlier. Everyone was free to say whatever they wanted as long as it pertained to the job.

9. If you have supervisors, don't subvert the chain of command intentionally.

When you put others in a position of leadership, you have to give them the opportunity to be leaders of their team. If you're always breaking in your office will be confused as to who they should be reporting to first. That muddies things up for everyone.

Unless it was about the relationship with a supervisor, or the supervisor wasn't there on that day, every employee had to take work problems to them first. They also had the allowance to try to address issues on their own, but if they needed some assistance they went to the supervisor.

At that point, the supervisor had the discretion to either work on the issue or have it brought to me, either by them or the supervisor. I worked hard on training my supervisors to be independent leaders so I had time to work on other things, and they appreciated the confidence I had in them. Trust me, when you have competent people working for you it always makes leadership easy. 😉