Economic conditions don’t look good right now. Our nation is at war, businesses struggle to get sales going, and the future feels uncertain. To make matters worse, baby boomers, the most experienced people in your company, are thinking about retirement and some will take advantage of it. If there ever was a time that called for solid new leadership, this is it.
The question is, how do you find leaders for your company? The answer is you don’t. You train them. A good reason for doing so comes from Jim Collins’ book “From good to great”. In it, he reports on researchers who evaluated a range of similar companies led by CEOs hired outside the firm and those run by people who rose through the ranks. The good news is that the home grown CEOs generally outperformed the hired guns.
Although I’m no leadership expert, working with people over the last half century has led me to recognize several traits useful in a leader. Sooner or later you’ll be asked to head a project or department. So consider cultivating these characteristics:
For goodness sakes, show some enthusiasm. Let your people know you’re glad to be there. No one enjoys working for a stoic. When a staffer does something right, let them hear your appreciation. Remember: Praise in public, criticize in private.
Listen to your team. They are chock full of good ideas. You just have to ask for them. Ask them in small groups because people seem more willing to share in the comfort of, say, two to five peers.
Don’t underestimate quiet people. One former colleague was the quietest on staff, especially when in an audience. At press conferences she rarely asked questions or made comments. But when asked for a suggestion away from the crowd, she always offered a worthy idea.
Back up your followers because sometimes the cantankerous client is not always right. This is where your diplomatic and negotiating skills come in.
Let your team know what is going on and what you expect of them. Set clear group goals. You’ll expect them to talk to you so talk to them as well. Tell them how the department is doing and ask for ideas how it might do better. Be honest. They will know when you’re not and that can hurt your credibility.
Cultivate the peculiar genius. Most groups have one. Sometimes they are unsociable, easily riled, and may easily irritate others because of their unconventional manner. You need their special skills and out-of-the-box thinking, so let them be peculiar. And lastly:
Be nice to the gray-hairs. Maybe a few will stick around and you’ll learn something new.
Wind energy and leadership
The renewable industry is a growing endeavor with windpower in a leadership role showing what can be done with the right ideas and goals. Every company in the wind industry has an opportunity to be a leader by delivering on the promises and expectations that wind can be the world’s most efficient renewable energy. Join the sponsoring companies in this issue and me as we deliver on those expectations and promises.
Filed Under: News