"Go" is an ancient Chinese board game, much like chess, with an endless array of possible moves and combinations. It is often said that "Go takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master." Like Go, the basic rules of leadership take only a few minutes to learn, but the intricacies of professional leadership take a lifetime to perfect. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to better business leadership, but understanding the basics of human motivation and interaction can provide an invaluable window into how your actions can motivate others.
The first step in developing yourself as a leader is to embrace and understand this simple concept: "No one cares what I talk about doing; they care what I do.” The example you set with your actions, your attitude, and your interactions with others is far more revealing of your character than you realize. As a leader, your actions set the standards of conduct in your organization. An hour helping a coworker catch up on a mountain of work carries more weight than all the inspiring speeches you could ever make. The measure of a leader is the weight of their contribution, not the power of their words.
As a leader, your load should be the heaviest and your pace the quickest. You should be first in the door in the morning, and the last person to leave at night. If you ask your employees to sacrifices, you must sacrifice even more. If you aren’t in front of your pack, how can they follow you? Just as a pride of lions will never outrun their leader, your organization will only perform at your level or below. Shirk your responsibilities, and your staff will shrug off theirs. Shoulder an extra load and watch as your coworkers offer to lend a hand.
Finally, remember that every single person in your organization is motivated by different factors. The key to better business leadership is understanding that in order to get the most out of each employee you have to motivate them in ways that relate to their needs. Some employees need a friend to walk beside them and encourage them to succeed. Others need a taskmaster who can critically evaluate their performance and correct their deficiencies. Others are motivated by praise, attention, and recognition. The key to success in leadership is developing the ability to recognize each team member’s individual motivators. Once you understand what your employees need to be successful, leading them is just a matter of providing that motivation.
Strong leadership is a critical component of success in any business. A boss tells his employees what to do and how to do it; a leader shows them where to go and lets them succeed. Always lead by example, always perform beyond the level you expect of your employees, and constantly strive to learn what drives your team to succeed. Be quick to accept blame for failures, and slow to take credit for success. Follow these basic tenets, and watch your organization thrive.