Much of what makes a great leader is her or his ability to uplift others by encouraging them and challenging them to be the best that they can be. Leaders who focus specifically on themselves or only on results can hurt an organization.
Of course results are still important, and are often a good way for a leader to look back and measure their impact on their team, but leaders who primarily focus on results are seen as great only roughly 14% of the time. On the contrary, leaders who can combine their emphasis on results with an enhanced focus on people were seen as great leaders 72% of the time. Learn more about this research from Harvard Business Review.
Lessons From A People-Focused War Hero
General Douglas MacArthur, the respected World War II General, became famous for his 17 principles of leadership, and while the wording behind these principles might be very militaristic and outdated for a modern-day business setting, the messages are still as relevant today as they were seventy years ago.
Several of the 17 principles that are highly important for leaders today, include:
- Am I interested in the personal welfare of each of my subordinates, as if he were a member of my family?
- Am I a constant example to my subordinates in character, dress, deportment and courtesy?
- Is my door open to my subordinates?
- Do I heckle my subordinates or strengthen and encourage them?
- Have I done all in my power by encouragement, incentive and spur to salvage the weak and erring?
“Am I interested in the personal welfare of each of my [employees], as if he were a member of my family?” When leaders treat their staff as members of their family, a connection and dedication is built. This dedication is what drives employees through the tough times and encourages company loyalty. Mergers, market shifts, heavy workloads and external career opportunities for employees are all challenges that a leader regularly battles, but when s(he) treats her or his employees like a highly valued asset and not just another member to be measured, turnover decreases, and engagement and productivity increase. Just like any other relationship in our lives, you get out what you put in.
“Am I a constant example to my [employees] in character, dress, deportment and courtesy?” A great manager leads by example. A leader who utilizes abilities such as behavioral and emotional intelligence, is subconsciously encouraging their team to follow suit. As emotions are contagious, and people are highly impressionable, a leader who lacks EQ will develop sub-par performers and future leaders. A leader high in EQ is teaching their team through their actions. Learn more about the most visible and behavior driven impacts of EQ.
“Is my door open to my [employees and staff]?” The best leader is one who listens. It’s easy to become complacent in our knowledge once we have ascended to an executive level, and in fact, there are studies that say power can get to our heads and make us rigid in our beliefs. One of the best traits of an innovative leader is one who can keep an open door, and an open mind. Learn more about openness and listening.
“Do I heckle my [employees] or strengthen and encourage them?” One of the most difficult tasks that leaders face is motivating employees to be their very best. It is especially challenging because people are motivated through different incentives and all people have different needs to feel encouraged. Too much pressure can lead to inefficiency and a lack of engagement, but too little can lead to feelings of boredom leading to a lack of drive. The best way to lead is to learn the various ways to motivate others, an important aspect of the Behavioral EQ Model.
“Have I done all in my power by encouragement, incentive and spur to [help those who are struggling]?” A lack of engagement at work is often times a reflection of leadership and not the tasks at hand. Similar to your favorite classes in high school or college, less of it was impacted by the actual subject matter and instead influenced by the teacher. I personally hated chemistry and physics, but when introduced to a teacher who took the time to spark students’ interests and make us feel capable, a new energy emerged, and I started to understand and excel. An employee’s dedication to their job, and the enjoyment they get from going to work every day has much less to do with the actual work, than it does with the leadership. EQ training helps leaders address engagement, productivity and turnover issues. Learn more about EQ training here.