3 Quick Ways To Become A Great Leader

Six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls and MVP five times.  If there was ever a person with natural talent, Michael Jordan was it.  From the time he was a young boy, he never stopped pushing himself. His father said, “The person Michael tries to outdo most is himself.”

You may not be slam-dunk material, but as a manager you should never stop developing yourself.  Just like some athletes, many great leaders are born with a certain amount of natural talent.  And just like those athletes, they have to expand on that talent with continuous training and, in the field of management, education.  The responsibility falls on them to move forward with drive and desire.  If you want to become a great leader, be like Mike and take the bull by the horns.  In this game called life, it’s all up to your personal motivation.  Here are three quick ways to become a great leader.

Commitment To Growth

As a manager, set goals for yourself and your company.  Once the goals are set, you can begin establishing a plan to achieve them.  Without a plan, you’re like a player who dribbles and never shoots: up, down, up, down, with no momentum moving down the court.  Your company’s success depends on the growth of you and your team, so set clear and realistic goals and objectives for both.  Set milestones, and offer incentives.  The end goal should always be your objective, but the day-to-day goals are what will show your growth and progress.

Stand By Your Word

To be a great leader, you should understand that your word is everything.  The relationship you build with your team is based on trust.  If you want to earn and keep the respect of your team, them not being able to trust you is not an option.  The quickest way to lose that trust is to go back on your word.  If you promise a reward for a project successfully completed, make sure your team gets the reward.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Ask For Feedback

As a leader, your first role is to lead…  However, that does not mean that you should never stop and ask for feedback.  Whether it is guidance from a mentor, or suggestions from your team, you should welcome feedback.  You will never grow yourself without guidance at every level.  The only place for ego in business is at the door, so check it there.  You are human, and your team will respect the fact that you are including them in your growth.

As a manager it is easy to be a boss, but it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and drive to be a leader.  A leader needs to set the standards, from they way they dress to the effort they put forth.  Set your goals, keep your word, and ask for feedback.  Let your team know that you are there for them, as well as with them.

It Takes A Team To Succeed

There’s no “I” in Team

Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”  Do not try to fool yourself… because you can’t manage a business on your own.  As a manager, you need to assemble and develop a team of capable and trustworthy employees.  A solid team gives you the freedom to focus on making your business a success.  Additionally, they will strive to achieve personal success which will, in turn, make the team even stronger.

Just Let Go

Control is a blessing and a curse.  On one hand, you retain control of various aspects of your business and always know what’s going on.  Do you really?  A study done by Life Science  (http://www.livescience.com/2493-mind-limit-4.html) says our mind can focus on a maximum of four things at once with a level of success.  Hmm…  1. What’s for lunch today?  2. I need to get the oil in the car changed and the tires rotated.  3. Where are those monthly revenue figures Jones was supposed to give me?  4. There is a meeting in two hours and I still need to finish the proposal.  That is just what is on your mind, but your responsibility does not stop there, does it?

Realistically, we can say that numbers one and two will end soon enough and two more tasks will replace them.   Thinking you have it all under control, you end up working late, missing deadlines, and falling behind.  Hence the curse.  Some things are within your control; others give you the illusion you are.  Focus on the tasks within your control and evaluate the importance of those which are not.  Doing it on your own may seem possible, but in the business world it takes a team to truly succeed.

Where Did They Get ALL THAT TIME?!

How many times have you heard the expression “We all have the same 24 hours in a day?”  Have you ever noticed that some people seem to accomplish so much it almost seems like they’ve got an extra hour or two?  Great managers understand that time is valuable for everyone, especially themselves.  They trust the ability of the team they have.  As a manager, you also must trust in your team’s capabilities.  Instead of contemplating the refusal of a new project, take a moment to gather the necessary information.  Then bring your team together and delegate tasks to those members whose strengths will be most useful.  Finally, have faith in the team you chose to get the job done.

Get by with a Little Help from your Friends

There is no shame in admitting you need help; everyone needs help.  Put away your ego and reach out to your colleagues.  Network with other departments in your organization and leverage them when needed.  Reach out to those that have walked the path before you.  Everyone likes to feel needed.  In addition, it is natural to want to help a friend.  Kind words have power so use them, both in the office and out.  Be willing to be there for others in their time of need.  Teamwork goes both ways.  Your success, and the success of your business, depends on it.

Being a great manager means being a great leader.  The only way to be a great leader is to lead with integrity, which can be defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.”  Who do you know that fits this description?  We all have at least one person who seems to make all decisions based on a certain moral code.  Is that person you?  Ask yourself how you would want others to think of you and be that person.  Most of all, lead by example and raise the bar for both your team and yourself.

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What Makes A Good Interview?

The Importance of the Interview

“What makes a good interview?”  We first must know what an interview is.  It is the most critical step in the hiring process and you should take it seriously.  It is your opportunity, as the manager, to not only review a candidate’s qualifications, but it is your chance to see if this person is the right fit for you and your team.  Remember, the ability to do the job is only part of what makes a great employee.  Passion, a willingness to go the extra mile, and dedication to the greater good of the team are qualities you should not overlook.  You can teach many “tasks”, but a great attitude and desire to succeed are naturally found in someone.  A great team member never says, “That’s not my job.”  So determine if their skills are there then follow-up to see if their attitude matches up.

Scan and Select

Review all resumes beforehand and make sure they meet the qualifications for the position.  Do they have the education, the experience, and the skills this position requires?  If this information is unclear, you may need to conduct a phone interview before bringing them into your office.  If they do not possess the necessary qualifications, do not waste your time or theirs.  Chances are they will submit resumes to multiple companies so if you are not the right fit, let them find who is.  Once you’ve determined who your best candidate is – or maybe there are several – set up a phone interview.

On the Phone

When conducting a phone interview, you should ask basic questions designed to narrow the list of candidates.  Prepare ahead so you do not waste time.  Confirm their background, experience, and any other pertinent information.  Ask at least one question relevant to the position to get a feel for their level of expertise.  See how well they handle the call, from the way they answer the phone to the way they communicate.  Are they professional and do they meet the requirements?  If so, schedule a time for them to come in for a face-to-face meeting.

Face-to-Face

The meeting is your chance to talk to the candidate and gain valuable information.  Ask open-ended questions, the type that require them to think and elaborate, and let them talk freely.  You will learn everything you want to know, and more, just by listening.  As they talk, note their body language and gauge how comfortable they are.  Also, ask yourself the following questions: Did they prepare for the interview?  Did they arrive on time?  Is their attire professional and did they offer a firm handshake?

A hiring manager I know was interviewing candidates for a receptionist position at a medical practice.  She had interviews lined up all morning and had told the current receptionist to turn anyone away who was late.  It turns out she should have told her to refuse anyone who wasn’t dressed professionally.  All candidates were at least ten minutes early, but two of them were in what appeared to be pajama pants.  Their qualifications were excellent, but their lack of professionalism in such an important moment said it all.  What’s the old saying: “You don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression.”  As a manager, a person’s credentials should impress you, but so should the way they present themselves.

Go the Extra Mile

During the interview, take time to tell them about the position and make sure they have a true understanding of what the job entails.  If possible, bring them to the area where they would work and introduce them to the team.  It is important they understand exactly what the position requires so they can decide if this is truly for them.  This will save you valuable time in the future and minimize your attrition rate.

Lastly, be professional at all times and stay on topic.  Be ready to answer any questions they may have, including salary and benefits, especially if this is a position which requires a highly sought after set of skills.  Understand they will expect some room for negotiation.  Everyone likes to feel valued, so give yourself room to accommodate.  At the same time, if you feel this person may not be the right one, there is no need to discuss compensation details.  Simply thank them for their time and move on.

If you make a connection and wish to move forward, let them know you will put together an offer letter and send it out within one week.  Use discretion when discussing salary and benefits in an interview.  Present these details in writing so there is no misunderstanding of terms.  When negotiating salary, remember to mention any other perks they may find valuable, e.g. a car allowance or a gas card.  You may also present these in the compensation package.

You’ve Got This!

Interviewing can be a tedious task, and it’s the least favorite of many managers.  Your ability to select candidates who will be assets to your team will strengthen your business and elevate its success.  Stay confident, keep a smile on your face, and take the time to pick the right candidate.

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