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14 Things a Leader Must Do

Below are 14 things that some of the most effective leaders in organizations do today to help their organization be successful. These are not focused on managing the company’s finances, preparing for Board meetings, or planning strategy; but rather, in addition to those certainly important items (along with many others), these 14 key items help leaders to get in touch with their employees as well as their clients to help the company succeed.

  1. Communicate effectively: Leaders must know how to effectively communicate through all levels of the organization – the right communication, with the right amount of information, at the right time.  Be honest when things aren’t going well in the company – don’t scare the employees – but let them know what’s happening and what the plans are to get back on track.  Keeping things behind closed doors only worries employees and increases anxiety and de-motivates them. Some communications may be written memos sent via email, in other cases face-to-face conversations work best, and for others, small group or one-on-one meetings might be most effective.
  2. Get out of the corner office:  Leaders need to walk around among employees; not just sit in their office waiting for employees to come to them.  Take a walk about the office – see how employees are doing.  Get to know them.  Ask about their family, an upcoming event, or what they did over the weekend. Attend department meetings – learn what’s going on within each department and what challenges they face.
  3. Be out there representing the company: Speak at conferences, blog, Tweet, participate on LinkedIn groups, contribute to the company FaceBook page, etc – do the “social media thing.”  Represent the company and its employees.  You are the face of the company!
  4. Praise employees:  Know what projects employees are working on and what their accomplishments are – praise them for work well done!  Make it personal (one-on-one) and public (on the company intranet site, via a newsletter, in a staff meeting, etc.).  If a project did not go well, let them know it’s OK.  Talk to them about what happened and how it could be done better next time.
  5. Contribute to the company’s internal newsletter:  Write an article for the company newsletter regularly – have a “Letter from the CEO” section where you discuss what’s going on in the company, upcoming projects, praise employees, highlight special events for employees such as birthdays, birth announcements, upcoming weddings, etc.
  6. Share your vision:  Share your vision for the company – excite your employees with the possibilities for the future and how you will get there.  Make them part of that vision.  Make sure everyone understands what the future holds and the possibilities!
  7. Make it happen:  Ensure that the employees know how to reach the future goals of the company. How can they help? What should they do?  Do they know how to get the company where it needs to go?
  8. Motivate others:  Especially in tough times people are scared about losing their jobs, the future of the company, etc.  Talk with employees regularly – keep them motivated.  Let them know what is being done to survive the tough times – what are your plans for the company.  Get their suggestions on how to survive the tough times.  You don’t have to sugarcoat it when times are tough, but they need to know you are there to get them through it and you have a strategic plan to do so.   Motivate your employees to be the best they can be. What is their talent?  What are their strengths?  Inspire them to be the very best they can be.  How can they help the company grow and prosper and how can the company help them? (Remember: it’s a 2 way street!)
  9. Invest in your employees:  Prepare your employees for future roles within the organization. Help them develop and grow both personally and professionally.  (Part of Motivate Others above.)  Employees whose organizations invest in them are motivated to be the best they can be!
  10. Visit clients:  Talk about the company, see how the client is doing, share with them where your company is heading, find out where their company is heading – how can you help each other?  Talk about the future – what do they envision they need to ensure success in their organization.  How can your company help them? What works well between the two companies, what could use improvement?
  11. Don’t micromanage:  Let people do their jobs – be there to support them, guide them and encourage them, but don’t look over their shoulders constantly – let them get to the end result in their own way.  Meet with them to see how things are progressing – offer your assistance if needed.  Be practical about what can be accomplished.  But be ready to roll up your sleeves and pitch in to help when needed!
  12. Develop a true team environment: Create an environment where working as a team is valued and encouraged; where individuals work together to solve problems and help move the organization forward.  Individuals who will challenge each other and support each other….which leads us to #13….
  13. Surround yourself with people who complement each other’s and your own skills:  Don’t surround yourself with “yes” people.  Surround yourself with individuals who will challenge you, who think about and do things differently than you do.  These will be your problem solvers and the individuals who can work to grow the organization and help it prosper.
  14. And don’t forget about yourself: You aren’t perfect and can never be perfect.  Build your own skills and become better at what you do.  This is required in order to ensure your company can grow and prosper and compete effectively in a global competitive marketplace.

I’m sure you can add to this list!  Please share with others what else a leader must do to be effective!  Use the Comments field below.  Thanks!