As I think about what makes a great leader, these three come to the top in my mind.
Love the People you Lead
This is by far the most important one because it is the foundation of all attributes. Love is felt by all you lead. It creates a mutual relationship of loyalty and respect.
If you truly love these people you will care about them and their family. Get to know them, listen to them, acknowledge them when they do well. Learn what motivates them and what their interests are. If you have interests or a background similar to theirs, let them know. Bonding takes time, but will never truly happen without something common between the two of you and that can lead to this love and caring.
Listen to them, really listen. Remember that God gave us two ears and only one mouth. That should indicate to us to listen twice as much as we talk. Some people are great at this while others have to learn this skill.
Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher, penned the book, “The Prince”. In this book he asked whether or not it is better to be feared or loved as a leader. Many new employees have told me that when they started working for me they feared me, but as they came to know me they saw that they didn’t need to fear me, as I cared about them and was kind to them. As they come to not fear their leader they will work as a team member better and, overall, be more successful.
Lead by Example
For a leader to ask a team member to do something that they wouldn’t do themselves is to bring disdain and a resentment for the leader. Clearly define what you expect of them. If you show them what to do rather than explain the task, they will better understand and will accomplish the task easier, correctly and meet your expectations. They are more likely to go beyond the assignment if a lot of praise is given. Be quick to praise, but slow to criticize. If you find it necessary to criticize, thereafter, find a reason to praise also, and perhaps, show them how to do the task better.
When a team is small, a leader must always lead by example. At Nature’s Sunshine Products in the early days, as the President (leader) I could and often did everything. We produced the filled capsules, dusted them, filled the bottles by hand, in the beginning. I was the book keeper and salesman for awhile until we were large. In short, I had to do everything and be the leader. When the company was much larger, I didn’t have the time to do everything, but I knew how to do it. The employees knew I knew how, etc. This is leading by example.
When I was a Mission President for my church, I had done everything I asked the young men and women to do. They knew that and never, therefore, questioned what I was asking them to do. Because of their faith, they rose up and improved their abilities and skills and became more successful.
When I started my other companies, as I hired people I could tell them exactly what to do, because I had done it before. Even then, many times I had to roll up my sleeves and show and help them as they learned what was expected. To be a successful leader they must never doubt what you can do, have done, will do or what you ask them to do. Don’t forget, for your team members to be their best you must your best too! If you are a poor leader, they will never rise up to their best potential.
One rainy day during the American Revolutionary War, George Washington rode up to a group of soldiers attempting to raise a wooden beam to a high position. The soldiers couldn’t get the beam in position. After watching their lack of success, George Washington dismounted his horse and went to work with the soldiers to get the oak beam in place. After they finished, Washington said “If you should need help again, call on your commander-in-chief, and I will come.” The soldiers then recognized who had helped them and were flabbergasted that he was willing to help despite his being their commander.
Never Give Up
Those who know me know that I admire Sir Winston Churchill who rallied and led Great Britain in WWII to victory, removing them from the jaws of defeat. I imagine that most people have heard his quote, “never, never, never give up!” In fact, this quote may be considered by some to almost be a cliché. It is because this is a true principle of success and crucial to any leader’s success. It has been at the foundation of my success.
Successful MLM companies, or for that matter any successful companies, don’t just happen overnight. They take time to build and get momentum coming. This does not happen in the short term. Blood, sweat and tears are often required to build and make a successful company, if it happens at all. I suspect that many business failures occur because the owner(s) gave up too quickly. They became discouraged and couldn’t go on. Anything worthwhile takes patience. I remember praying for an answer to an important question I had and it took 20 years to receive the answer. So, if it is worth doing, don’t give up, keep ploughing along, doing your best at all times.
I want to encourage all readers of this blog to continue to strive to be the best leader that you can be. Be patient and never give up!