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I already knew some of the most useful bits of information I’ve ever received. The problem was, I hadn’t remembered how important they were to my own success.
It is possible to become energized and enlightened even from ideas wandering in your head, lost and forgotten, along with phone numbers, passwords and your birthday.
With that in mind, here are five aspects of effective leadership that can significantly increase morale and profit.
1. An effective leader retains the leadership role
I was poor. I mean dirty. I was the company’s lowest paid salesperson, but went to school full-time, so education was my main focus, and sales came second. Or possibly fourth.
The owner of the company went out of his way to help me. One time he even gave me a new sports jacket, although that may have been because he was tired of seeing the one I wore to work every day.
On a cold winter morning, at 3 a.m., when the temperature dropped below zero, I awoke to find that my oil heater had stopped working. In a panic, I called him on the phone, and he came to my house and rescued me. It’s like we were best friends.
Since he liked me and wanted to help, it would have been easy for him to play favorites and pay me more than I was worth. However, the favors I received were those of a friend, not company coffers.
During my job review, I asked why I hadn’t gotten a raise. The answer I got came from a leader, not a friend. “It’s because your sales are too low.”
I don’t think you can argue with math.
Related: 22 Traits That Make a Good Leader
2. An effective leader makes the tough decisions
Most people put off the tough decisions because they think the obvious answers will show up. But in many cases there is no right decision. It’s 49% to 51% however you go. You become someone’s friend and someone else’s enemy no matter what you choose.
A true leader focuses on the results of that decision, not who will be mad.
You may remember an episode of “The Office,” where Jim Halpert gets to make his first decision as manager. The company doesn’t have enough bonus money to make ends meet. Who gets it and who doesn’t? His confident decision was met with attacks from people who were his closest friends the day before. Lesson learned.
An effective leader makes the call and handles the consequences. Sometimes leadership is the worst job in the room.
Related: 6 Ways to Make Tough Decisions Easier as a Leader
3. An effective leader sets the tone
When the mood at work is negative, it tends to affect everyone, and it’s easy to queue up and repeat the bad news. Nobody wants to be the odd one out.
Perhaps sales have fallen or the outlook for the year is pessimistic, which could turn the company’s entire outlook sour.
True leaders do not fall into the line of negativity. Instead, they bring their own positive mindset, mood, and optimism, offering good news despite all that seems.
By doing so, they can literally change the outcome of the business.
An article in Harvard Business Review titled “positive intelligenceby Shawn Achor discusses the effect of anxiety at work that activates the part of the brain that processes threats and steals resources from the prefrontal cortex, which is effective for problem solving.
An effective leader sometimes has to stand alone in replacing fear with anticipation. He knows that when the team is given a task and a plan of attack, they can achieve great things despite huge obstacles.
Related: 4 ways to leverage your leadership brand and transform your workplace culture
4. An effective leader makes the mission clear
What is a mission? It is the one goal that everyone in the company understands. It’s more than a goal – it’s an ideal. It is the feat that, when achieved, will change the lives of everyone involved.
A mission statement is concise and easy to understand. In the military, the mission is to win the war, and when that is accomplished, everyone knows it.
A leader summarizes that mission in a short sentence and posts it everywhere. Everyone is well aware of that mission to the extent that whatever is done can be measured by whether a particular action helps to achieve it.
Twitter got it right: “Giving everyone the opportunity to create and share ideas and information instantly and without barriers.”
Related: 4 Essentials To Make Your Corporate Mission Thrive
5. An effective leader affirms
People need confirmation. Leaders often forget that their words have much more impact than someone else’s words. When an employee is recognized by a leader and told that he or she is doing a good job, it can lead to more productivity than many other incentives combined.
Expert leaders carefully give correction behind closed doors and sandwich those corrections between two very strong affirmations. Praise, on the other hand, is generously and publicly distributed.
Perhaps, while reading this, you were struck by an “Aha” moment. But most likely you were simply reminded of an aspect of leadership that you had forgotten.
It’s easy for leaders like you to forget important aspects of leadership because you’re busy being great in so many areas of your life.
Do you see what I did there?
Related: The Magic of Verbal Affirmation and Emotional Connection in Management Roles