Leadership 101

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Last week, I traveled to sunny Orange County, California to attend a 5 day conference devoted to Leadership. While I have always considered myself pretty fearless in taking charge in any situation, I also realize that there is always room to grow, and in order to remain competitive, you must constantly work to refine your talents. Lucky for you, I have put together cliffs notes of the top three qualities that define a good leader which were in some way interjected into every lesson taught throughout the conference. While some of these sound like no-brainers, they are actually quite difficult to practice in everyday situations.

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Take Responsibility: Now this can go one of two ways, but both are equally important:

EX A: You rocked a meeting and you are being acknowledged by others for your hard work. Many people don’t want to come off as chauvinistic, so they say something along the lines of “Oh, it really wasn’t that difficult” or “Really, it wasn’t that big of a deal..” If someone in the work force is giving you praise for something- OWN IT! You know you worked hard and you deserve for other people to recognize that and verbalize it to you. A simple “Thank You” and a warm smile is perfectly fine!

EX B: You tanked a meeting and you are being held accountable by others for your lack of effort or preparation. While it is always easy to find blame in other people, first look at yourself and think of what you could have done to have changed the outcome of the situation. Next, address all of those involved regarding how you dropped the ball and ways in which you learned from this mistake. Your colleagues will gain much more respect & trust in you if you can acknowledge a weakness than if you just try to blame others and sink away from the situation.

Communication: This is a big one regardless of what field you work in. As a leader, being able to clearly relay what needs to be accomplished is key. If everyone is not on the same page at the beginning of the project- errors will be made which will result in lost time and effort, usually creating tension within the team. Clearly define, with as much detail as possible, what you need done and in what time frame you need it completed; and always make sure your employees feel comfortable to ask questions if need be. A great lesson our President, Trey Berning, taught me that I will forever hold onto, is that there is a difference between communication & a conversation. Communication can be in the form of an email, voice-mail, text, post-it, g-mail chat, etc. A conversation involves two human beings having an interactive verbal conversation resulting in a clear decision at the end. Sometimes, simple projects can be completed by some form of communication where as more complex projects require a/ multiple conversations. When in doubt- always choose a conversation!

Commitment: As a leader, the best way to ensure productivity out of your staff is if you inspire them by your own hard work and commitment. Not very often do you see those in leadership positions rolling into a meeting 10 minutes late or leaving the office right as the clock strikes 5 o’clock. Commitment comes in many different forms, but all can gain respect of your team and assist in delivering the peak amount of quality work out of all. Ways to show commitment can be through positive reinforcement, loyalty to your company and brand, following through on daily tasks, being able to get down in the trenches to do hard work when need be, and staying loyal to everyone on your team through good times and bad.

Over the next month, try implementing these three qualities into the work you produce. Take notice on whether those around you see a difference in the work you are creating, your attitude around the office or with colleagues, and recognition from those in management positions.