Dr Sheh’s guide for everyday leaders is especially useful during these trying times. Part one and Part two of the guide were featured in Issue 2 and Issue 3, 2020 respectively.
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. In the earlier two issues, a total of 15 tips have been discussed.
Tip 16: Stimulate Innovation and Change at the Workplace
Effective leaders subscribe to innovation and creative thinking.
- Make quality an obsession, especially with smaller items;
- Pay attention to smaller details to be professional. The larger issues easily get the attention of people;
- Inspire others to new levels of achievement; and
- Use paradoxical thinking:
– Turning something that seems impossible for others into a possibility is the greatest act of a wise leader. He or she is not a magician but rather a dream translator.
Tip 17: Unity is Strength so Use the Strength of a United Group
Effective leaders develop a “super team”.
- Understand your team and make your team better than yourself;
- Use people collectively—“two heads are better than one”. Understand the importance of teamwork and team spirit. Create a “super team”;
- Develop an action team that is ready to execute ideas and get things done. Work in teams to share the workload. Team spirit reduces office politics; and
- Inspire trust and loyalty—fight for your team.
Tip 18: Motivate Employees Deeply to Generate Self-motivational Energy
Effective leaders are great in motivation.
- Expect others to succeed. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when you believe others are loyal, dedicated, and doing a good job;
- Help others see how they will benefit from doing a job. This is when they truly become motivated; and
- Keep things “light” and have fun rather than being too serious. Being overly-serious will only block productivity. In order to fly like a bird, you must think “light”. Play soft and lively background music or even rock music.
Tip 19: Learn How to Learn, and Create a Questioning Culture
Effective leaders are constantly learning.
- Ask high-quality questions;
- Develop your people through off-the-job initiatives such as training, conferences, and seminars. Sponsor people to join professional bodies; and
- Continuously develop yourself through on-the-job learning. Continuously impart your knowledge and share your experience with your people.
Tip 20: Focus on Effective Reward Systems Rather than the Reward Itself
Effective leaders know how to carry out MBS (Management by System).
- It is not about “how much” you are paid. It is about “how” you are paid (the system);
- Focus on results, not on activities and personalities; and
- Reward people for the results that they produce. Rewards must be tied to performance appraisals and the accomplishing of objectives.
Tip 21: Understand that Showing is Better than Telling, but Letting People do it Themselves is Best
Effective leaders believe in on-the-job training (learning through doing).
- Provide adequate instruction. Time is lost if things are not done correctly;
- Train others to do the various jobs. You cannot do them all, nor can others do them if they have not been trained; and
- Help others to recognise their own importance.
Tip 22: Be Generous with Praise
Effective leaders subscribe to the power of positive reinforcement.
- Catch people doing things right and then let them know. People want to be involved in something important. Make the job significant;
- Send thank-you notes and memos; and
- When the environment and your sincerity permit, give the person a hug or an affirming touch.
Tip 23: Show Your Team that You Trust Them by Leaving Them Alone
Effective leaders show trust in their people.
- Always give people the benefit of the doubt. The situation may not be within their control;
- Manage by exception. When things are going well, leave your team alone. Only help when a problem occurs; and
- Giving people recognition generates energy in them. This energy can be channelled to increase productivity.
In part four, the final seven tips of an effective leader will be discussed.
Dr Sheh Seow Wah (extracted from the book, “The Art of Leadership: Wisdom from the Ancient Chinese”, 2018—available at Amazon and Kindle.
Dr Sheh received his doctoral degree in Transformational Leadership. Dr Sheh serves a lecturer with several universities (both local and foreign). He also serves as an Organisational Behaviour Consultant and Change Management consultant.
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