An Easy-to-Practice Guide for Everyday Leaders (Part One)

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Home > Articles > An Easy-to-Practice Guide for Everyday Leaders (Part One)

 An Easy-to-Practice Guide for Everyday Leaders (Part One)

Sheh Seow Wah | Today's Manager
June 1, 2020

Dr Sheh has developed a guide for everyday leaders that is especially useful during these trying times. Part of the guide is featured in this article.

Based on a review of contemporary leadership practices (at all managerial levels), a self-directed leadership guide (one tip per day for 30 days) for everyday leaders has been developed (excerpts from my latest title, The Art of Leadership). I am of the belief that a tip a day keeps the problem away.
Tip One: Lead Yourself Within and Without.
Effective leaders spend 70 per cent of their time leading others and 30 per cent leading themselves.

  • The ‘boss’ is the strongest model that the employees have. Lead by providing a good example;
  • Be sincerely interested in the people working for and with you; and
  • Leadership is about leading by following the wishes of the people.

Tip Two: Be a Leader, Not a Boss.
Effective leaders see themselves as leaders rather than bosses.

  • Moving from the industrial to the information age: effective leaders are not bossy, authoritarian; or despotic;oving from the industrial to the information age: effective leaders are not bossy, authoritarian; or despotic;
  • An effective leader has a strong sense of purpose and direction. Thus, effectiveness (“doing the right thing”) is primary; and
  • An effective leader acts as a “futurist”—knowing how to predict the future accurately. He or she is someone who can paint the “big picture”, meaning that he or she is forward-looking, a trend-spotter, or even a trendsetter.

Tip Three: Stretch Your People, Not Strain Them.
Effective leaders bring out the best in their people and do not just make use of them.

  • Treat people as people and not things;
  • Let people know that you believe that they can do it. Tap the potential of those working for you by giving them the opportunity to think things through for themselves. Help people to grow; and
  • Help people understand how they are doing something meaningful and relate how this can ultimately be linked to the organisation’s vision or to a greater vision.

Tip Four: Set Realistic Goals or Targets.
Effective leaders use Management by Objective (MBO) to lead their people.

  • Let your employees know your expectations and help them to manage their expectations as well. Set realistic goals;
  • Motivate your people from present to future. Use goals to motivate them. Paint a “big picture” and put them inside the “picture”. Meeting mutual expectations is the principle of exchange or transaction;
  • Encourage others to develop their plan of action. Help them to see what choices of action are available; and
  • Manage the results and not the activity of others. Refuse to buy into their limitations.

Encourage your team to have the following motto: “Do not quit; persist until a goal is reached.”

Tip Five: Be focussed and action-oriented.
Effective leaders are action-oriented.

  • Focus like a camera—adjust slightly until the “picture” is focussed. Do not look to multi-tasking, just be focussed. Make people feel important;
  • An effective leader is a focussed person—always “zeroing in” to what he wants or on his or her goals;
  • An effective leader is confident, committed, and enthusiastic in execution. He or she possesses good execution power—action-oriented; and
  • Effective leaders are good at putting their ideas into action by using a participative style (getting people involved). Practise participative management to allow the involvement and commitment of others.

Tip Six: Believe in relationships.
Effective leaders understand that leading is about people.

  • An effective leader believes in people and relationship. He or she always takes good care of the people around him/her. Most times, Emotional Quotient (EQ) is more important than Intelligence Quotient (IQ);
  • Be sensitive to your people; check your emotions and theirs as well. Be compassionate and humane in dealing with people.  Make people feel good and like following you; and
  • An effective leader engages with his or her people (a “relational approach”). An effective leader is humble in dealing with others. He or she always treats people with great respect. Invest in your relationships.

Tip Seven: Turn conflict into positive and creative energy.
Effective leaders appreciate diversity.

  • When you are going to make a change that affects others, get them involved before making the actual change. This increases commitment to make the change work after it is implemented;
  • Look for individual differences first before similarities; and
  • Let diversity becomes a key source of creativity. Forming a diversified workforce creates ‘synergy’ among them.

In part two (featured in Issue 3 2020), I share another eight tips that an effective leader should follow. 

Dr Sheh Seow Wah, author of “The Art of Leadership: Wisdom from the ancient Chinese”, Singapore in 2018 (available in Amazon and e Kindle)







Copyright © 2020 Singapore Institute of Management

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