The concept of leadership should be a simple proposition. Obviously it's not, as many people haven't really had the opportunity to slowly ease into leadership positions, and many of those people have never had the opportunity to lead anything else previously.

There are lots of different theories out there on leadership. I even wrote about some of them in my own book Embrace The Lead. Some theories are very complicated to deal with, while others are somewhat middling. I'm not sure where I'd categorize the theories I bring up in the book, but I do know this. There are 4 simple steps that, if leaders took these into consideration, would help the overwhelming majority become better leaders overnight. It's at least a start; they are:

1. Consistency. Employees like to know who they're dealing with when it comes to who they report to. Some leaders can be nice as the Muppets one day and as mean as Simon Cowell the next day. Some can make a great, well thought out decision one day and suddenly make an emotional snap decision the next. Being consistent helps employees figure out how to approach you, if they'll approach you, even if you're a bad leader; of course, if you follow this step and the others, you won't be a bad leader anymore. 🙂

2. Listen. True leaders listen to what people have to say, no matter what it is, before making decisions. I have found that most problems can be solved by listening to someone talk about their issues, and sometimes they figure it out while they're talking so you don't end up having to do a thing. This shows you're interested in what people have to say and that you honor them by giving them a little bit of your time.

3. Loyalty. There will always be someone that will complain about one of the people that reports to you. Are you one of those people that automatically sides with someone else's position against your own employee or someone who will ask some questions to ascertain whether your employee was at fault or if someone else is out of line? Even when it comes to the customer, leaders need to maintain a sense of fairness before acting on a situation involving their employees unless they saw the transgression go down.

4. Fairness. Did I mention fairness already? Fairness means everyone gets the same opportunities. It also means that you're being logical in your thought processes. For instance, if you have people in your department that do something no one else can do, it makes no sense to make everyone else follow the same rules and processes. I oversaw both billing and registration at different hospitals, and it made no sense to make billing people adhere to the same time and vacation rules as the registration people because they couldn't cover each other based on the work they did.

Just these four things will imminently improve your relations with the people that report to you. Of course there's more, but if you employ these 4 things you'll see at least a 50% improvement in how your employees see you; isn't it worth that?