On April 21st, 2015, my first book, People Leadership: 30 Proven Strategies to Ensure Your Team’s Success, was published. I wish I could tell you a story about some near-death experience that inspired me to become a writer, or maybe about how I have yearned to write a book since I was a child and this was the culmination of my heart’s desire—but that is not the case. The truth is, I loathed writing for a long time; in fact, throughout high school, college, and graduate school, I always groaned when I was assigned papers.
It wasn’t until my corporate job of twenty-plus years was relocated to Raleigh, NC that my attitude toward writing began to change. As I tried to figure out my next career move, I became intrigued by the speaking circuit for colleges and corporate events—and while researching how to enter that world, I discovered that being an author of a book on a “hot” topic like leadership could boost my credibility and ability to book speaking gigs. It was then that my aspiration to become an author was born.
As I began to put thoughts on paper, I became inspired by the wisdom I had gained during my many years of working with and leading people, and I found that there was much that I wanted to say. The more I wrote, the more energized I became by the idea of sharing with others the mistakes I had made and the lessons I had learned during my leadership journey. Even more so, I felt called to provide leaders with simple strategies that, when implemented, would boost their teams’ productivity and effectiveness. One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned about leadership, after all, is that when a leader focuses on others’ success instead of their own, they catapult themselves forward by association. People are the key to success in every organization, and people need leaders that care about their teams and want their employees to be successful. That is the message that I am inspired to spread around the world: Focus on the people, and the results will flow.
Here are five strategies you can use with your team right away to turn the focus from you to them and ensure their (and your) success:
Build a strengths-based team. Having the right people doing the right things is the only way to produce long-term results that are effective for the individual as well as the company. Take the time to ensure your team members are aligned with the roles that best fit their talents and skill sets before beginning a new project.
Collaborate. As tempting as it is to do this, you cannot and should not try to do everything by yourself. If this is you, you are a control freak, not a leader. Your team members have good ideas and are capable of great things—but it’s your job to engage them. Ask for input, and implement some of their recommendations.
Be adaptable. We are all unique, and we each have different ways of operating and communicating. As a leader, it is up to you to adapt to your team, not the other way around. True people leaders adapt their style to meet the needs of their team members in order to achieve results.
Be accessible. Leaders receive a ton of demands from all levels of an organization, as well as from outside influences like customers, vendors, and shareholders—but that’s no excuse for shutting yourself away from your employees. As a leader, it is critical to be accessible to your team. This means always keeping your door, heart, and mind open at work so your people always feel they can come interact and connect with you.
Have fun. With all the pressing demands a managerial position brings, “fun” is not a word that usually makes it into conversations about leadership. But remember, people run businesses, and most people thrive most when they are having fun. Don’t be afraid to take time-outs to have a laugh. When everyone’s happy, you’ll find it’s easier to tackle large issues that need addressing.
I encourage you to join the movement to make PEOPLE a priority in the business world. Just implement any one of these strategies, and you’ll be taking the first step!