By Dr. John C. Maxwell
A few years ago, National Public Radio’s Workplace Correspondent, David Molpus put the word out on npr.org that he was doing a story on bad bosses and wanted real-life examples. Within two days, he had received more than 300 e-mails. While some were from employees who wanted to defend their bosses, many described behavior that, from a relational standpoint, was downright appalling.
“My former boss…had a habit of snapping fingers to summon support staff, or, if in search of a secretary, would bang on the women’s restroom door calling out names until someone responded,” wrote one person who answered Molpus’ request for anecdotes.
“I have had a weight problem all my life,” another website visitor wrote. “I had a boss who told me, twice, that ‘we have to teach you how to walk like a lady instead of charging around here like an elephant.'”
According to an article on npr.org, other frequently mentioned bad-boss behavior included “showering criticism while stinting on praise” and, acting like an employee’s best friend one day and his worst enemy the next.
When I read about such behavior, I’m reminded how critical good relational skills are in the life of a leader. Your job description might say you’re in charge of a project, a system, a department, or an entire company. But when you’re a leader, a key focus of your work is leading people.
The people in your sphere of influence aren’t machines; they’re unique beings with their own personalities, talents, shortcomings, and needs. That means you can’t take a cookie-cutter approach to your relationships at work. You have to get to know the members of your team individually. You have to find out what motivates each one, and then incorporate that into how you lead them.
At the same time, there are certain relationship rules that every leader should follow. Here are five:
1. Get along with yourself.
There’s a reason why this rule is No. 1 on my list. If you learn to get along with yourself, then you’ll find it will be easier to get along with the people around you. Read this carefully: hurting people hurt people. Over the years, I’ve observed that people who can’t get along with themselves can’t get along with anyone else, either. If your act’s not together, you’re going to have relationship problems all your life. So learn to like yourself.
2. Value people.
Valuing people will keep you from manipulating them. It will keep you from treating your employees like servants or slaves (see previously mentioned examples of bad-boss behavior). It will keep you from handling others badly simply because you’re having a bad day. Of course, you can’t just give lip service to valuing people. It’s not something you can fake. You cannot make another person feel important if you secretly feel that he or she is a nobody.
3. Make the effort to form relationships.
It takes a great deal of energy to develop relationships. I understand that. I also know that, as a leader, you have plenty of other responsibilities that require large amounts of energy, including the very act of leading itself. But though it might be tempting to put relationship building on the back burner as you focus on these other things, I encourage you not to do it. When you invest in relationshipswith the people you lead, with your peers, with professional colleagues, etc.you build a network that can provide encouragement, inspiration and support during good times and bad. And you also avoid one of humanity’s saddest states: loneliness.
4. Understand the reciprocity rule.
What is this rule? Over time, people come to share reciprocally, similar attitudes toward each other. For example, if you have a good attitude toward others and you maintain a good attitude toward them, eventually they’ll have a good attitude towards you. Conversely, if you have a bad attitude toward someone and you continue to maintain that bad attitude toward him, eventually (if not sooner), he’ll have a bad attitude toward you. In other words, when it comes to attitudes, what comes around, goes around.
5. Follow the Golden Rule.
You may have been looking for something a bit more revolutionary, but there’s a reason this principle has withstood the test of time. If you want to have productive, authentic relationships with the people you lead and work with, do unto others as you’d have them to do unto you.
If you follow these rules, you’ll have a growing number of relationships that add value to your life and make you a better person. But it won’t stop with you. As you practice these principles, the people you lead will notice. And not only will they notice, they’ll start following your example.
For leaders who value people, the rewards don’t get much greater than that.
A NATURAL PROCESS
Although the reading public readily devours books that promote the leadership methods of contemporary military heroes, football coaches, and well-known business leaders, at least one author has serious doubts about whether the secrets of their success can be passed on in a book.
“The problem with our become-a-leader-in-30-days craze is that what worked for [Jack] Welch and [Lee] Iacocca is not readily transferable,” Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Halberstam writes in a recent issue of Fast Company. “I think you had to be Lee in order to be like Lee; I don’t think you could be Lee through study.”
Halberstam, who has written extensively about wars and military leaders, says that in most fields, leadership development is a natural process, rather than something that is taught or transferred. “Leaders are men and women who have chosen the right profession,” he writes. “They’re good at it, and because they’re good at it, they like it, and because they like it, they’re even better at it. …They’ve understood their field from the start, and they’ve studied it without even knowing they’ve studied it.”
These individuals may become aware of their potential early in their careers. But they often don’t become serious until mid-career “because their own talent surprises themthey were not that brilliant when they were in college or just starting out,” Halberstam writes. “Academic excellence, after all, rarely translates into professional success, and the special intelligence that makes leaders thrive in their field is not necessarily an intelligence that transfers well to other fields.”
So what sets these later-blooming leaders apart? “They are extremely well prepared, and they push themselves hard,” Halberstam writes. “Most crucial to leadership, they give off a unique aura, the sum of their confidence, their tone of voice, their feeling for command. They are not people you want to fail.”
Speaking of leadership books, most titles available these days focus on how to be a better leader. That is, after all, the goal of most good leaders.
But Barbara Kellerman, a research director at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, approaches the topic from a different angle in her new book, Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, and Why It Matters.
“Anyone not living in a cave can see that bad leadership is as ubiquitous as it is insidious,” Kellerman said in a recent interview published in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge e-newsletter. “That is not to say that bad leadership is more prevalent than good leadership, any more than we would say that bad people are in greater number than good people. But it is to argue that human nature is complex and nuanced, as prone to be revealed in gray and black as in white.”
After reviewing hundreds of cases of bad leadership, Kellerman came up with seven distinct categories of bad leaders: incompetent, rigid, intemperate, callous, corrupt, insular, and evil. Different lessons can be learned from each group, but there are a few rules of bad leadership that apply universally, Kellerman says.
“Every one of the stories told in my book points to the importance of the follower,” she told Working Knowledge. “Simply put, there is no bad leadership without bad followership.”
A Brand New Way to Look at Your Goals and Dreams
I have great news about your goals!
News that is sure to motivate you to do the things you have always wanted to do and be. And how can I be sure of this news without knowing your particular goal?
Because it is something that all goals share.
It doesn’t matter what you want, you can use today’s idea to give you a powerful boost in confidence and motivation.
And it’s quick and easy to do.
The Answer is Under Your Nose
You probably don’t realize it, but you are wearing the secret to success at this very moment. It’s true.
You can discover it by looking down at your shirt sleeve. Go ahead, look down.
Can you see it?
The same law of success can be found on your bookshelf, in Egypt, and even on the top of your head.
Let me help you out. Your sleeve may seem to be a solid piece of material, but taking a closer look will show you hundreds of smaller strands woven together.
That heavy book on your bookshelf is no different. It’s a combination of thin pages stitched together. The great pyramids in Egypt are awe-inspiring and overwhelming, but as you know they are made from bringing together thousands of smaller pieces.
And your thick head of hair? You guesses it. Thousands of single hairs brought together to create your signature style.
What does all this have to do with your goals?
The Truth About Success
Your shirt, books, pyramids, and hairstyles hold the key to helping you get and stay motivated to achieve everything you want. And the secret they hold is this:
Success, no matter how immense or overwhelming it may seem from afar, is a matter of small, simple steps.
Most people take a look at a successful business, sports team, or family and believe it happened overnight. ‘Those people were just born lucky.’
They couldn’t be more wrong.
If you could go back in time and watch over the shoulder of a great and worthy success you would find a man or woman following a series of small steps every day that would combine to create something amazing.
A phone call, a letter, an afternoon meeting, a hug…these are the things that lead to powerful and lasting success.
Before we get to the specifics of what you can do with your goal, I want to mention an important note about goals and success. Namely, what if you don’t know what you want?
It’s a very important question and one that can drive any sane person crazy. It’s such a frustrating situation to know you want happiness but not know how to make it happen.
If you would like to work through a series of insightful and eye-opening exercises to help you uncover your goals and live an exciting and happy life, visit the address
Your Personal Exercise
Now it’s your turn. I want you to take one of your most important goals and pull from it three simple steps you can carry out today.
For instance, let’s say that your goal is to get in shape. While some people would approach this hoping to change everything at once, you would think about what
you could do right now to make progress.
Eat a healthy meal. Walk downstairs to your home gym.
Search the Internet for an exercise book. These are simple things that you can do right now. Small steps that will make a difference.
So, think about three things you can do right now that will bring you one step closer to your goal. The smaller, the better. After you have your ideas in mind write them down
The last step is easy. Do them!
And when you do something exciting will happen that you won’t want to miss.
Why Does it Work?
If there is one thing that the people I speak with underestimate it is the act of taking a single, small step toward their goal.
We have been brainwashed to think that success requires superhuman strength and the mind of a genius. Not true.
Great things can be accomplished by anyone who knows what they want and is driven to do all the small things each and every day.
And it takes only one step to begin.
After getting a small taste of success you’ll want it again. You’ll feel confident and motivated to keep going day after day. Just one step. That’s all it takes to build momentum.
Can you take one step toward your goal? A phone call, an e-mail, a new book? I think you can.
We both know that getting and staying motivated to achieve your goals is vital. We also know that getting motivated to take that first, second, or third step isn’t always easy.
Even when the steps are small we can still hesitate for an eternity.
What if there was a way you could guarantee that you feel driven and motivated to get what you want every single day for the rest of your life? Would you be interested in
gaining that skill?
If so, you are the type of person that would find great value in the address below. You will learn everything you need to know to start working toward all of your goals and
stick with them until you succeed.
Jason Michael Gracia
Founder and President
Now Introducing the Secret to Motivation
If you’re tired of struggling to get what you want we have the guide you’ve been looking for. The Motivated Mind will teach you, step by step, how to get and stay motivated for the rest of your life. And with this power nothing is out of your reach.
With The Motivated Mind you’ll discover…
– The single greatest myth about motivation that will change the way you look at personal and professional change forever. Just reading it will give you a sense of control and confidence you never before had.
– There are only four things you must do to change your behavior in minutes and have it last a lifetime. Not only will you learn what they are but also exactly how to use
them with your own personal goals and dreams.
– Would you like to feel more confident? You’ll unlock undeniable proof that you can, in fact, get what you want no matter how big or small your goals may be. Chapter 6.
– The right attitude is the difference between happiness and failure. But it’s not a positive attitude that you want! Which is the right choice? Chapter 8.
– You know you have to make a change but you can’t seem to get moving – no longer a problem. Learn the three groups of myths that keep people from moving forward and
never again let them hold you back. Chapters 12-14.