A story is told of the Duke of Wellington, the British military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, and how he was not an easy man to serve under. He was brilliant, demanding, and not one to shower his subordinates with compliments.
Yet even Wellington realized that his methods left something to be desired. In his old age a young lady asked him what, if anything, he would do differently if he had his life to live over again. Wellington thought for a moment, and then replied, “I’d give more praise,” he said.
As you evaluate your leadership style and your daily opportunities to add value to the lives of those around you, are you taking advantage of the openings presented to you to make that difference? Here are 5 leadership statements that should never be left unsaid.
“Great job” – A leader comfortable in his own skin has no problem giving credit where it is due and recognizing the work of team members who make success possible. The withholding of praise or encouragement is detrimental to the morale of the team and creates negative energy.
Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” It may not be something that comes natural for you, but neither do the rewards of hard work that you team members puts forth. Make it a practice not to miss the opportunity to praise your team for work well done.
“I believe in you” – Empowerment is an exhilarating motivator for your team. When you express your belief in your team members individually and collectively, it sets in place a cultural environment where all inhibitions or doubts about success are set aside.
The late Billy Hornsby said, “It’s okay to let those you lead outshine you, for if they shine brightly enough, they reflect positively on you.” This happens when you empower them and when you tell them.
“How can I help you?” – Part of the empowering process as a leader is achieved by putting the right tools in the hands of your people. When your team succeeds, you succeed. Empowerment must be tangible and you simply can’t presume that your people have the resources they need. You have to ask.
Peter Drucker said, “Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.” By asking how you can help you are blending together the best management practice with the best leadership practice and creating the opportunity for success. Don’t be afraid to ask what your team needs from you.
“I was wrong” – This might possibly be one of the hardest statements to make a leader. But if you are honest with yourself, it is one you will be a position to frequently make. Leadership is not about perfection. We all make mistakes; no leader worth her salt will be mistake-free.
Henry Ward Beecher said, “Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” The best way to foster trust and respect with your people is to let them hear it from you when you were wrong. Besides, they already know it.
“Together we can” – Ultimately, your success as a leader is found in cultivating a vision that includes all of your people who individually and collectively take ownership of it. You can’t achieve your goals without your team, and your team will not pursue it if they haven’t bought in.
Warren G. Bennis said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality,” he’s right. Your vision becomes a reality when everyone knows it, everyone believes it, and everyone is committed to achieving it. Together it can happen. Let them know it.