Great Leaders Maximize Organizational Talent


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People often have conflicting ideas regarding who is a great leader. More often than not, it seems, more than half of the U.S. population, at any given time, doesn’t even think our own president is a particularly good leader. Within an organization, personnel in leadership roles must find a way to earn the respect of a greater percentage than that. Company leaders are instrumental in keeping employees motivated to provide peak performance, promoting communication among all levels of the organization and developing a positive work environment.

As baseball season is kicking into high gear, here in the Cincinnati area, much of the water cooler talk is centered on leadership abilities in the Reds’ clubhouse. Last season, the team brought in a new manager, Bryan Price, who had no prior Major League managing experience. Compounding that coaching change with the decision to not re-sign certain players who seemed to be natural team leaders put the team behind the proverbial eight ball (wrong sport, I know) for finding the most effective forms of motivation to reach top performance on the field. After the disappointing season that followed, fans are now wondering if certain players on the roster can step up into the much needed leadership roles for the 2015 season. But which players might be best suited to handle such influential expectations? The answer to that question is yet to be determined and likely depends on a number of factors.

Although people may find it difficult to agree on who is or can be a great leader, they are more likely to see eye to eye on what qualities a great leader should have. These qualities are typically similar, whether relating to a sports team, a family or group of friends, or a company or organization. If a company’s management team possesses these characteristics and can use them in employee relations, they are more likely to earn the respect of their employees, and therefore, get the most from the workforce as a whole. This dynamic pushes people to work harder and often outperform expectations.

When leaders exhibit certain qualities and strive to develop them further, they not only are more effective in their daily job duties, but also help to represent their companies in a positive way. One such important leadership trait involves strong ethical behavior, which can be shown in a variety of ways. By treating customers fairly and providing them a quality product or service at a fair price, a company proves its value in business. This behavior spills down throughout the organization, as employees are also treated with respect and provided a safe and reasonable work environment. In this situation, everyone wins.

Another key trait of good leaders is strong communication skills, particularly relating to delegation. Managers not only should have the knowledge of what needs to be done, but they also must be able to share this knowledge, often designating certain people for specific work, explaining how to do the job and sometimes even why it must be done. In this sense, the leader becomes a teacher, helping the “students,” or employees, learn better methods for performing their work. And the “how” has as much to do with process as it does attitude.

The leader’s approach to his or her own job is easily transferred to the employees. Therefore, a positive frame of mind and a commitment to success is vital from the top down. If employees are happy with their work environment and see that their leader is committed to keeping it that way by providing a fun atmosphere where everyone contributes, they are far more likely to go beyond the call of duty when the situation warrants. That’s what makes an organization shine.

When company executives are seeking their next great leader, whether it be a shopfloor supervisor, project manager, or even a baseball player to keep teammates motivated, they usually turn to someone with experience who is confident in his or her own abilities. Making sure this person is able to mix those traits with other important leadership qualities is the wildcard.

On a baseball team, the best clubhouse leaders are those who not only perform on the field on a consistent basis, but also are there to support teammates through tough times, motivate the team, and hold those around him to high standards. Shopfloor leaders with these attributes are just as valuable.