It’s no accident that Steve Jobs is a household name, and it’s not just because he was the head of a widely known company.
Jobs was a character with a philosophy: a thought leader whose colleagues were believers. He understood that leading in the workplace is about more than making major business decisions. Strong leaders set the tone for their business and guide their company—and employees—to be the best they can be.
It helps to have some principles in place that guide you—here are five of the best:
You know that elevator pitch you’ve got memorized—what your company is all about, what your overarching goals are, why you come into work each day? That’s an important message for potential investors and partners, but it’s especially important for the people working every day to achieve it.
In a recent TED Talk, leadership expert Simon Sinek discussed the value of “why.”
“Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100%. . . But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause?”
An inspired leader gives their employees’ work meaning: managing their feelings of inspiration and value is as much a part of your job as overseeing their work.
Apathy is one of the workplace leader’s greatest adversaries. Given the choice between a staff of worker bees and a staff of self-motivated, goal-oriented leaders, I’d choose the latter.
While that may seem harder to manage, consider this: each employee has a specific job, and a specific role within the corporate culture. Each person has the opportunity to be a self-motivated “internal entrepreneur.” From that level of motivation come ambitious new ideas and creative problem-solving methods.
A culture leader in the workplace should encourage that. Give people room to grow, and, wherever possible, align compensation with performance.
It’s impossible to overstate the value of a visiting speaker, guest of honor, or other motivating storyteller in a corporate setting. There’s a reason workshops and retreats build up to a keynote speaker who energizes and inspires his audience.
Google’s motto is “don’t be evil.” While that may seem hyperbolic at first, it serves dual purposes: in part, it elevates the importance of Google’s work to the highest and basest of human behaviors, urging its workers to be good—a lifestyle directive as much as a mission statement.
“Yes, it genuinely expresses a company value and aspiration that is deeply felt by employees,” pen two former staffers in their recent book How Google Works. “But ‘Don’t be evil’ is mainly another way to empower employees. . . Googlers do regularly check their moral compass when making decisions.”
The gravity in this case is not an overstatement—to employees, it’s empowering, and elevates the value of their work.
Sure, a raise is a great way to show an employee you value their work and their contributions, but you can’t hand those out every day, and often can’t offer them every time they’re deserved. A thought leader in the workplace needs more rewards in his toolbox than just financial compensation.
Always be thinking about new ways to show your staff you appreciate them and celebrate their successes. Highlight triumphs in staff meetings. Award added responsibilities and leadership roles to staff members who demonstrate that they’re capable and make sure to explain your reasoning. Words are powerful, and praise can make a big difference in an employee’s sense of self-worth and well being.
There’s a fine line between encouraging competition and highlighting individual accomplishments: identify where that line lies in your workplace, and stay on the side of positive affirmation.
A Braveheart reference may seem hyperbolic in a business article, but bear with me: a workplace leader could stand to learn a thing or two from William Wallace.
Like a warrior on the front lines of the battlefield, all eyes are on you, and your actions and attitude will determine how hard your army will fight for you. Disillusionment or a lack of motivation in an employee is a minor setback; in a workplace leader, it’s a game-changing problem. Part of your job is to greet each day with energy and passion, inspiring your employees to do the same.
Managing a high-functioning staff starts with the self: manage your attitude as well as your actions. If you want your team to start each day excited to face new challenges head-on, you need to do the same. Attitudes are contagious: make sure your infectious mindset is the right one.
—JW Dicks (@jwdicks) and Nick Nanton (@nicknanton) are best-selling authors who consult for small- and medium-size businesses on how to build their business through personality-driven marketing, personal-brand positioning, guaranteed media, and mining hidden business assets. They offer free articles, white papers, and case studies at celebritybrandingagency.com.