Making Your Mark as a Leader

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As a designated leader in your organization, it is essential to secure the confidence of your staff. How do you go about it? Here are some suggestions:

Cultivate an Atmosphere of Growth
Start by letting your staff do their jobs without unnecessary interference. Resist the temptation to solve the problems of your staff or send the message that your way is the only way to get the job done. Instead, be willing to learn from staff members and anyone else who might have useful information to share.

Convey a Positive Professional Image
Be friendly but don’t treat your staff like close personal friends. They want you to be a strong leader, and they want to feel secure and informed about what is important in your organization. Tell them what they need to know and expect them to tell you the same. Shared knowledge builds confidence and trust.

Choose Your Wars Carefully
Take a stand for your staff when necessary, but, don’t make promises you are not sure you can keep. Offering false hope will only have a negative effect on your credibility. If you develop a reputation as someone who doesn’t follow through in a crisis, you will damage your effectiveness and your ability to gain the trust of your employees.

Encourage Risk-taking and Self-improvement
Give employees freedom to take risks and opportunities to correct their own mistakes. Offer training in new skills. Challenge workers with new tasks that stretch the skills they already have. Give employees as much control over their work as you can. You might let them set their own goals or decide which tasks have priority once you have defined the mission of your department. You will have to set some limits, of course, but independence helps workers feel better about their efforts and you as their leader.

Be Generous With Praise
You will earn the loyalty of your staff if you praise workers publicly as often as you sincerely can, but, don’t overdo it. Undeserved praise can backfire just as surely as unjustified criticism. Realize that fairness is a standard we all recognize and appreciate. If staff members know that you are loyal to them, they will give you the same in return.

Display Your Sense of Humor
Never be too busy for an appropriate amount of laughter. Nothing gets employees through a crisis like a good laugh . . . and a leader who’s willing to enjoy it with them.