There’s no easy button for becoming a good leader. There is, however, a path to becoming one. During a presentation at the Young Leaders Forum Tuesday at the VIPAR Heavy Duty Annual Business Conference in Orlando, John Egan with the American Management Association provided VIPAR’s youngest leaders a detailed roadmap to a career of leadership success.
Egan says good leaders focus on PEOPLE. Or, specifically: Professionalism, Empathy, Optimism, Partnership, Loyalty and Empowerment.
Egan describes each step in the PEOPLE path to leadership success as follows:
Professionalism: Exhibit a manner that earns respect and trust. Egan says good leaders come to work with a sense of purpose. They are composed and committed to what they do, and that “emotional intelligence” as Egan puts it, resonates out to their employees.
Empathy: A good leader understands the challenges and rigors their employees face each day, and are sensitive to how that impacts their personality and their work. Showing an ability to connect and care for others in an emphatic fashion allows leaders to develop a rapport with employees, Egan says.
Optimism: No one wants to work for a pessimist. Egan says optimistic leaders are people who don’t avoid acknowledging a problem or issue. Instead they address it immediately, and then look to solve it. He says most employees feed off a leader’s optimism, and confidence in the face of adversity.
Partnership: This one is huge, Egan says. According to Gallup research, only 30 percent of employees are actively engaged with their employer. Half are non-engaged, and 20 percent are actively disengaged. Egan says a leader who promotes a mindset of creativity, collaboration and support are those who are most likely to skew those numbers upward in their businesses. He says praise matters, too. Leaders who offer frequent praise regularly produce stronger teams and better quality employees.
Loyalty: This can relate to leader’s relationship with their company and their employees. Loyal leaders are willing to go to bat for their people, and will stand behind them when necessary. Egan says this takes courage, adding that employees who feel their superiors are not loyal to them are much more likely to become disengaged or leave a business.
Empowerment: Egan says a good leader trusts their people to make their own decisions. They have the ability to train someone to do a job and the self-control to stand back and let them do it. Egan says empowerment is vital because it strengthens an entire team. Empowering leaders also are willing to listen to criticisms or advice from employees and use that to improve their leadership style and company performance.