We’ve all had managers that were good and managers that were bad throughout our careers, but what makes a great leader? How can we aspire to be a great leader for our employees?
One bad manager in your small business can deal damage to your brand and your ability to hire good, quality candidates. High pay and great benefits may get a new hire in the door, but a bad manager can cause them to leave. Then, once that employee leaves, they will tell others about their experience. This may not hurt a large company but can hurt a small business.
I interviewed several employees to get their perspective about what makes a good leader. I boiled it down to the following five attributes.
If an employee doesn’t respect their supervisor or manager, it’s hard to build trust. Your employees will respect you if you work hard and be a good example to them. They are willing to put in the hours if they see you are willing to do the same. If you ask your employees to be at the office by 8 a.m. every day, then you should be there at the same time.
Ask your employees for feedback. Sometimes they may be afraid to give it because they are intimidated by their manager and they don’t want to lose their job. Yet without feedback, how can you grow as a leader? Treat your employees as you treat anyone else in your life, with dignity and respect.
Allowing employees to give feedback if they think you are heading down the wrong path or if they are unhappy with something can build trust. You hire people who are good at what they do. Trust in them to give input about their daily tasks or business operations. When you do this, they will respect you.
When employees give their input or present an idea, make them feel that they are heard, and they have a voice. Respect will lead to loyalty and that will give you a competitive advantage over all of your competitors.
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Treat Employees as Humans
All employees want to be treated in a humane way and not feel that you or the management team are in a superiority position. Show empathy towards employees when they are experiencing a personal hardship. You should be invested in their personal, as well as their professional lives.
Sometimes as a business owner you may have to make the tough call and layoff some employees to save the business. If that happens show that you care by helping them find their next job or their next career move. By doing this, you change a potentially horrible experience for them into a much better one. They will always remember what you did for them.
Once they leave, keep up with them and what they are doing. Later, if your business grows and you need additional help, they may want to come back. They may have learned even more to help you take your business to the next level.
Appreciate Their Work
Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Employees are more engaged when they feel appreciated. There are several ways to do this. It could be as simple as a thank you or a small gift card to say how much you appreciate them. I’ve had managers show me appreciation that meant a lot to me. One manager told us to leave early on Valentine’s day to spend it with our loved ones. That showed me that my manager values work and life balance. Another manager nominated me for an award where he highlighted my accomplishments and I truly felt appreciated.
Don’t forget how you felt when you worked for others. How did you want to be shown appreciation? What forms of appreciation did your past leaders you valued and respected do in which you could emulate?
Help Them Grow
One of my best managers when I was working in the corporate world gave me constructive feedback. He would call them “teachable moments”, and it could be as small as “you were leading a team meeting the other day and I observed that you were not listening to your team member’s input”.
All employees want feedback, but you need to give it to them in a timely manner with context. If you are going to give an employee some tough feedback about performance, make sure you give it with context and examples, so they understand. Don’t wait two weeks later. Ensure you address issues quickly after they arise.
Good Emotional Intelligence Skills
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. EQ is critical to have for leaders. As a leader, you need to be aware of your emotions and know how to manage them. Having these skills helps a leader portray that they are in control of the situation. With EQ, you gain confidence and respect from your employees.
You should also be hiring leaders with emotional intelligence. Potential new hires with EQ will be open to you about how they felt in situations. They will be able to tell you about criticism they received from their former manager and how they became better because of that feedback.
If someone is hesitant to tell you their feelings or won’t tell you about any criticism, you should think about moving on to another candidate. Especially if you are hiring for a leadership position. Be wary of candidates who blame a system, a company, or their previous manager. They may be lacking EQ.
Final Thoughts on Leadership Skills
Think about what skills are important to you when you were an employee working for someone else. You can get busy doing many tasks. However, it is important that your employees feel valued and you appreciate their feedback. Also, if your employees don’t respect you or they are not engaged, it is a matter of time before they leave.
Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Strive to be the best employer in your community. Be a great leader and hire great leaders.
Do you have an example of a great leader that had a positive impact on your life? Please share.
Author: Raya Khashab
Raya is the CEO and co-founder of ezClocker. She is passionate about customers and building products that change the way people run their business. She is also a big supporter of the startup community and helping people achieve their dreams.