If you are reading this article, it is likely that you are a leader in your organization. The question is; Are you a “True Leader”?
A leader is an individual who influences others regardless of their job title or their level in an organization. A “True Leader” is a special person who takes leadership to another level and is represented by the following:
- Their leadership success is sustainable over a significant period of time.
- They have self-fulfillment as a result of their contribution and growth of others.
- They have earned the respect of fellow employees at all levels.
Leadership in its simplest form is motivating a group of people to accomplish a common goal. Successful leaders cross over many areas; military, sports, political, social, etc. Successful leaders utilize many different styles of leadership: Rah! Rah!, quiet strength, intellectual, passionate, etc. No single leadership style is better than another; each leadership style is effective at the proper time and in the appropriate situation.
The challenge is to dig deeper into the composition of successful leaders to determine the common principles, which make them “True Leaders”, regardless of their specific leadership style.
I have spent over 20 years leading large multi-site contact centers across a variety of industries and the key challenge has always been the same; leading a large diverse organization to focus and execute on a common goal for the benefit of the customer.
The diversity of the contact center relates to the various goals of individuals; some individuals are driven to move up the corporate ladder, others are trying to assure there is food on the table on a daily basis, while another group wants to be sure there is enough beer money to get them through the weekend. Many different leadership styles may be successful to motivate this diverse group of employees, but one single set of principles is critical to be the special person who is a “True Leader”.
Principles are the building blocks that consistent decision making is built upon that should never be compromised. Principles do not address competency at performing a specific task, the principles outlined below are very personal and define how a leader works with their team; subordinates, peers, and superiors.
There are 5 key principles that I have observed in “True Leaders” and I have attempted to incorporate into my personal leadership model:
- “True Leaders” Treat People With Respect
- “True Leaders” Are Honest And Truthful
- “True Leaders” Are Decisive
- “True Leaders” Are Teachers
- “True Leaders” Are Role Models
“True Leaders” Treat People With Respect
Leaders must treat people with respect regardless of the level of their performance. When an employee does not deliver the results that were expected, a public display of displeasure is not the appropriate response. Instead, it is beneficial to work with the person individually to determine the cause of the problem and identify ways to resolve the problem. Even if the response requires some type of disciplinary action, a public display of condemnation is never appropriate. The employee will appreciate the humane treatment and the leader will earn the respect of others.
“True Leaders” Are Honest and Truthful
Leaders must always be honest and truthful regardless if the news is good or bad. Leaders often creatively interpret or even worse “fudge” numbers to avoid reporting poor results. An individual or organization may get away with this for a while, but two things happen; the truth gets out and people lose respect for the leader. A successful leader must look in the mirror each day and be satisfied that they are honest and truthful.
“True Leaders” Are Decisive
Leaders must be decisive, even when decisions are emotionally challenging, especially if the facts are clear. Leaders are human and many leaders have trouble making tough decisions because emotions are hard to overcome. If an employee does something knowingly wrong (e.g. purposely fill out a timecard wrong, make a sexist comment to another employee) quick action must be taken. Employees appreciate leaders who deal with issues quickly and decisively.
“True Leaders” Are Teachers
Leaders need to be teachers to assure that an organization and its employees are continuously learning. Teaching takes on many forms whether it is words of wisdom or working through an issue with an individual. An effective way to measure this trait is by observing how an organization performs while the leader is out of the office on vacation. A strong learning organization will continue to thrive even when the leader is not physically present.
“True Leaders” Are Role Models
Leaders hold a certain aura in an organization and therefore become role models for others in the organization. This principle is closely linked with the previous principles, and also incorporates the leaders communication style including: what is communicated and how it is communicated, including body language. An organization often takes on the characteristics of its leader and therefore the model that a leader projects is quickly assimilated into the organization’s culture.
Are You A “True Leader”?
There are many leaders in organizations who effectively exhibit different leadership styles. What defines “True Leaders” are the specific principles they practice in every task they perform. There are 5 questions that all leaders should ask themselves every day:
- Did I treat others with respect?
- Did I act in an honest and truthful manner?
- Did I act decisively when the facts were clear?
- Did I make somebody else better?
- Did I act as a role model?
It’s OK if you did not answer “Yes” to each question…take this opportunity to do some self-evaluation and see how you can put all of these principles into practice and become a “True Leader”.
If you answered “Yes” to each question….Congratulations, you are a special person who practices the guiding principles of a “True Leader”. With this knowledge you should feel proud of yourself because your role as a leader is sustainable and you have earned the respect of others.
Scott Sachs is president at SJS Solutions. He is a highly accomplished, well-respected senior level executive (a quiet and strong leader) who provides specialized consulting solutions in the areas of customer service and contact/call center operations through SJS Solutions, LLC. Scott consistently and successfully transforms and grows world-class customer service organizations. He thrives on working with organizations that are at an inflection point in their customer service lifecycle.