[November 25, 2014] When senior leaders talk about what they do and why they are so successful, one of their personal themes is that they’ve worked with other great people. “Who are these great people?” “What makes well-meaning people do such a good job that we should pay close attention to them?” The most successful leaders, throughout history, have been those that show a special interest in people who are important for achievements of the organization.
“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” – Ronald Reagan
Leaders know that they cannot always pick and chose who they lead. I wrote about this yesterday and provided a little advice that leaders should be cautious about well-meaning but trouble-causing people (see link). Superior leadership enhances the qualities of good people. If those qualities are good, then they will get better. If those qualities are not good, leadership will help many but there will always be those beyond our reach. The open ‘secret’ for senior leaders is to surround yourself with good people.
“You know, I think the greatest gift in the world is a good employee, you know, or people who can do your work for you and do it well the way you’d like to have it done. And I’ve always been able to surround myself with really good people.” – Kenny Rogers
Who are those good people – well-meaning, good hearted, and helpful – who support leaders and are a source of goodwill? I’m not writing about the average person who walks through life just doing the minimum to get by or those who only concerned about putting in their ‘40-hour work week’ but those who want to be the most helpful. The following are some of those we should direct our attention to, in particular, those who show leadership traits.
- The Believers: There will be those who value the mission and passionate about the tasks they perform. These are the people who have ‘heart in the game,’ those who have an innate desire to do the right thing for those they follow. Our best employees are true believers in the organizational cause and are happy to be a part of it.
- The Upbeat: People with a positive attitude, the glass is ‘half full’ mentality, likeability and good social skills are rare and are to be cultivated. They can ‘connect’ with other people and always seem to know how other people are getting along. Expect a smile on their face and perhaps a joke or two to make others feel appreciated. This person is desirable if for nothing else than helping to maintain a positive environment.
- The Honorable: The U.S. Military Academy cadet honor code says, “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” Honesty and integrity are the hallmarks of this type of person and a trait to be admired under all circumstances. Many lack this trait because they have limited moral courage; an unfortunate trend in our society today. Expect these people to also be great communicators of ethical standards.
- The Hard Working: Dependable, possessing team spirit, ability to receive and understand guidance, confident, proactive, willing to work, always looking to improve, and up-to-date are just a few of the characteristics of the hard working person. When asked what the most desired trait of an employee is, this is the most common named. While other traits are also a must for the best person to promote, hard working stands out as for the most part difficult to achieve.
- The Adaptable: Those who know how to adjust themselves to new things and circumstances, have a willingness to learn new things, and perform the best in a changing environment are those we all want to be on our team. They don’t have to be particularly smart or strong, but to be able to adapt quickly is indeed a sought-after trait.
Paying attention to these people is good for everyone. They can be expected to carry the bulk of the weight of work for any organization and therefore should be rewarded for their good works. It is not easy to find these traits in the hiring process because observation of their past work effort is necessary. Leaders must take the time to interact with these people and provide them with more challenging future assignments that will stretch their creativity and adaptability.
Failing to encourage these folks can be the downfall of any leader. Surrounding oneself with the best is a winning strategy. I have always found it to my personal advantage to envelop myself with people much smarter than myself. Not unlike senior leaders who must be cautious of difficult people, senior leaders must also be aware of those who possess needed traits. This means they need a plan on how to make the most effective use of their talents and motivations.
[Don’t forget to “Like” the Leader Maker at our Facebook Page.]