A few years ago I gave a presentation in Nebraska to a health care group that was based on my book Embrace the Lead. In a post a couple years ago, I wrote out all of the outline points from the book on this blog. When I gave the presentation though, I didn't copy every single thing out of the book because I felt that if they wanted everything from the book they could buy the book; sales right? 🙂

6-1-11 CLIC Launch-003
Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic
via Compfight

Therefore, there were some new things I added to the presentation that I didn't cover in the book. There were five things I talked about in the seminar that were what I like to call "talking points". In essence, these were things I felt that every leader should remember when it comes to working with other people. Let's look at these five points.

1. People have personal lives; the job isn't the end all it used to be.

Expecting every one of your employees to give you 12 to 14 hours a day without paying them overtime, out of the good graces of their hearts, was a ridiculous concept way back in the day and is ridiculous now. If your office structure is so tightly wound that it doesn't allow for employees to either be able to spend enough time with their family or leave when needed, such as family emergencies, your business might have difficulty surviving in today's world.

Employees understand that there is no such thing as a company being like family anymore, even though that was always a myth anyway. Therefore, smart leaders will always work to find ways to accommodate their employees when they can. Of course there are jobs where it's crucial that everyone sticks to a schedule, but that's not set in stone for the overwhelming majority of jobs.

2. Beware of favoritism, although it's easy to do.

I have owned up to sometimes having favorite employees I like to work with. However, I always made sure that a favorite was someone who went well above and beyond the call of duty. These were always people in supervisory positions, because I tended to spend more time with them than everybody else.

I have always believed that being a leader in business can be a tough job, no matter where it is. No matter what anyone might try to tell you, it's a very lonely job. If you can have someone to talk to within your own department, someone you can bounce ideas off while trying to make things better, someone whose thoughts you trust... it's invaluable. One hopes that if you promote someone to a supervisory position you feel comfortable enough in their judgment to do that very thing.

Because of this, and the trust I had in their dedication, I would pretty much allow my supervisors to have a few more liberties than everybody else. The truth is that as a director I had a lot of liberties that everyone else didn't have, so I passed some of those on to those who reported to me who had authority over others.

If you don't have that kind of structure it might not be a wise thing leaning on certain employees to do the same type of thing. Being accused of favoritism in those instances can be detrimental to the group. That's where it works best to have a fully open communication system, where you can present things to the group and hopefully work towards a consensus, while remembering that as the leader you still have to make the final decision.

3. "Thank you"; expressing it is more important than figuring out how to do it.

I believe that managers don't say thank you enough to their employees. For that matter, I'm not sure that employees anywhere say thank you enough to each other. It's such a simple way to acknowledge both appreciation for a good work as well as lift someone spirits because it shows that you've been paying attention to the work they been producing. I mean really, how hard is it to say thank you? While you're at it, spread "thank you" around in your outside of work life also; you'll be amazed at how people respond to you.

4. Everyone's watching what you do, so make sure they see what you want them to see.

If you think as a leader that you're not constantly under the microscope you're kidding yourself. Everybody knows what management is doing, at least their behavior, and if it looks like you don't care about the job, the employees or even the company, everybody's going to know. They may not say anything directly to you, but if you exhibit things that don't seem to show you in a good light, you're giving everybody permission to come after you later on.

This doesn't mean you have to try to be perfect. Nobody is perfect, and if leaders shouldn't be expecting perfection, something I talk about all the time, then employees won't expect perfection either. It's always important to let them know the kind of work you're doing if you're doing something different than what they're doing, and what you're trying to do on their behalf, whether it's individual or for the department. Every leader needs thinking time, and that might make it look like you're not doing anything. Communication is always a good thing.

5. Flexibility is the one true thing you need in your arsenal; everything else is fluff.

Unless you're starting a whole new program and you have to get everybody to do everything exactly the same way so you can find out if it works or not, being flexible as it applies to procedures and people is always the best way to go. It sounds strange to put it that way, but being flexible is critical to being fair to your employees.

I'm very big on fairness, not inequality, and if you can prove you can be fair, such as helping people with time problems at work, you will be respected, if not liked. There's nothing that says leaders have to be liked, but it's always a better option been being hated.