I was teased recently of relating everything back to leadership, and I realized it is true – “it begins and ends with leadership” (as my HR mentor says). A few of the important qualities of leadership:

  1. Communicate /Listen – The ’80/20′ of leadership is communication. Communicate frequently, tell what you can tell, tell them that you cannot tell them everything (people will understand) but you’ll tell them as soon as you are able to. Do what you say you’ll do (which turns out to be harder than it sounds, but absolutely critical). This will build confidence and trust. And, most importantly, listen.
  2. Think big picture/ strategy – as a leader, one of the most important aspects of the job is to make sure the organization/ function and team is “on the right track”. Involve your organization in the strategy, tie each person’s goals to the strategy, make sure people know how they fit in and the value of their work.
  3. Have an orientation to results – this sounds obvious but I’ve experienced many, many people who focus on other criteria such as time, form vs. function, etc. Throw out your old thinking and instead focus your attention on results. Then, reward results.
  4. Focus on people – it is easy to get caught up in thinking about sales, machines, labor hours and the like. Take a step back and think about people. The right people are your #1 asset – value them, leverage their ideas and skills.
  5. Execution – in the end, companies succeed or fail due to execution (getting it done). This really goes back to several of the other points because execution is reliant on people, focus, communication, and a persistent focus on results. As an example, 70-80% of mergers and acquisitions fail to yield the expected results. Most of them are due to poor execution. Be the exception.