There are numerous professional books, videos or trainings on how to become a good and effective leader. In course of my career I found, that there are just three handfull of leadership principles based on common-sense, which you need to consider and apply for becoming a good and effective leader:
- Treat other people (including your staff members), as you want to be treated yourself – this is the overall guiding principle!
- Be a role model for what you expect from your staff members – this applies for working attitude as well as for values or behaviors such as honesty, integrity, constructive criticism, …
- Show interest for your staff members‘ personal background, understand what motivates them or even makes them enthusiastic and what demotivates or annoys them, always treat them as individuals under consideration of their personality
- Have confidence in your staff members and value their work, show respect and encourage, support, educate and develop your staff members
- Be proactive and prepared, e.g. do never (!) stumble into performance appraisals for your staff members without being well prepared
- Be always straightforward, open and honest – trust is probably the most important asset in a personal relationship, so better don’t put it at risk
- Say what you want and do what you say, be always consistent and consequent in your words and actions – as well in inconvenient situations
- If you need to perform inconvenient or painful measures, execute them straight, quickly and consequent – don’t leave your staff members in uncertainty and don’t agree upon faulty compromises just to avoid personal disappointments
- Put the goals and actions of your team into a bigger context, provide your staff members with background information and explain why it is important to achieve certain goals or to perform certain actions
- Set clear and measurable targets – not only for tasks, but as well for behaviors, give your staff members sufficient leeway how to achieve their individual targets, don’t press them into a fixed scheme
- Perform regular progress meetings with your staff members on a one-to-one basis and give open and honest individual feedback to ensure that things are moving into the right direction, use these meetings to cherish and reward good performance and analyze bad performance in frank and clear language including conclusions for personal improvement (e.g. trainings, job-rotation)
- Feedback is not a one-way street and criticism is no lèse-majesty!
- Failures are primarily opportunities for learning and improving, ensure that your staff members frankly confess their failures, learn the related lesson and don’t repeat the same failure again
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! Be approachable, use lunch or coffee breaks to talk with your staff members, practice management by walking around (particulary if you are in charge of organizational units with a large number of staff members)
- Don’t play a role, be authentic!
After having considered and applied the aforementioned basic principles in course of the last 25 years, I can witness their effectiveness in practice.