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Leadership 101

by Bill Collier

We’re all looking for a quick fix nowadays. Fad diets. Instant gratification.

But some endeavors require time and work – like farming.

Farming – the world’s second-oldest profession – has been used as a teaching tool by many a motivational speaker: “You reap what you sow.” “If you don’t plant in the spring, you can’t expect a harvest in the fall.” We’ve all heard these old platitudes. They’re corny and simplistic.

They’re also true.

The same applies to leadership because the result is directly related to preparation.

I frequently meet business owners who bemoan the behavior of their staff. One common complaint goes like this: “We hold company huddles, and when I ask for input, nobody speaks. Yet after the meeting is over, everyone shares their comments – mostly negative – all around the office.”

Two problems with a workplace like this: One is the lack of feedback during meetings. The other is the willingness of employees to engage in destructive conversations outside meetings.

Both problems are treatable with a dose of leadership.

In the first case – lack of discussion in company meetings – how about this approach? Take employees aside, one at a time, and have a discussion like this: “Joe, you’re a respected member of this team. I value your opinion, and so do your teammates. Yet in meetings, you rarely speak. Can I count on you to more actively participate in the future?”

Any reasonable employee would readily respond to an appeal like this.

Let’s take a look at the second problem: complaining. I’ve used the following technique in my own businesses, and it works. It depends on being direct and is delivered to the entire team together: “During our meetings, I ask for questions or comments. Generally there are none. Yet after the meeting I hear people offering negative comments about company decisions. Going forward, let’s kill the negativity. If you aren’t comfortable speaking up in our meetings, see your supervisor or me to share your thoughts. But if you aren’t willing to do that, then you give up the right to complain to your teammates. If anyone starts complaining to you, tell them to take it to their supervisor. Let them know that we provide ample feedback opportunities and that we’re trying to drive negativity out of our workplace.”

No yelling. No threatening. Just leadership.

One synonym for “leadership” is “influence.” It’s a good way to describe it. In fact, I think leadership boils down to three main activities:
-    Influencing
-    Setting the example
-    Removing obstacles for your people

 This stuff is simple but not easy. Putting the time and effort into providing leadership is a business necessity. But don’t look for a quick fix. There isn’t one.

Bill Collier is the St. Louis-area coach for The Great Game of Business. He works with organizations that want to improve financial results, engage their employees and create a winning culture. Bill can be reached at 314-221-8558,, or
Submitted 9 years 56 days ago
Categories: categorySmart Business
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