54. Have a positive attitude. Don’t be negative. Your actions can create a positive morale amongst the team. This will be contagious and you will get more out of your team. Try to make your staff believe things are better than they seem, even when the pressure is on. The worst thing you can do is to badmouth any person or department within the company. You can kind of joke about company related issues, but in a lighthearted way. Sometimes a good laugh or feeling of solidarity can work to your benefit, just don’t be malicious or slanderous. It could also come back to haunt you. You would be surprised at the loss of respect you would receive if you acted unprofessionally in this manner. Remember this old adage, “It takes years to build respect, and only seconds to lose it…”
55. Be passionate about the objectives and organization. When you become passionate about a task, project, or departmental goal, your team will also become passionate. Channel your passion to be the best into your employees. Passion is the key ingredient between being good and being great. You want your department to be exceptional, not just good enough. Be passionate about becoming a world-class organization and your team is sure to follow.
56. Be enthusiastic and optimistic. Striving for a better future with an energetic drive is contagious. Your team will pick up on the same vibe. They want a better future just as much as you do. Your job is to make them want to be the best and take pride in their work. The more enthusiastic and optimistic you are, the more they can identify with working in a success driven department.
57. Be self-assured yet humble with strong character traits. A modest and honest person with charisma, integrity, accountability, drive and aggression, is easy to follow and respect. You should still be self-confident, just not conceited. Self-confidence and resiliency are key elements of a strong leader. Confidence with a touch of humility is a great mixture and people will be more drawn to you.
58. Have a high standard of excellence. You should always have an internal desire to do your best. Have a sense of duty and take pride in your work. Pay attention to every detail, and never stop striving to be the best.
59. Be ethically sound. Always practice good business ethics and you will not get caught up in any troubles. Sounds simple, but this is extremely important. Basically, do not lie to your staff, ignore your customers, steal from the company, ship faulty goods, misuse company property, etc. We will discuss more about business ethics in lesson 8.
60. Be friendly, but not their best friend. This is how rumors of favoritism start. It is impossible to say that you can no longer be friends if you have been recently promoted, however, you should keep the friendship very quiet. One of the toughest things about being a great leader is finding the balance between being friendly, and being too friendly, with your employees. A great leader is someone who holds a great deal of respect. You will start losing respect if you become too involved in personal friendships with your employees. It’s just natural. Your mystique as a leader will start to evaporate. You have to find the line between being friendly, and being their best friend. If you do have a best friend who works for you, be very careful about showing too much favoritism, and keep your friendship outside of work. You can be friendly to each other at work, just not as best friends do away from work. Also, dating one of your employees should be out of the question, unless you are ready for some major turmoil. It rarely works out when you are in a managerial position, unless they move to another department altogether.
61. Be thick-skinned and ready to take risks. Although it is nice to fly below the radar and keep a sense of status quo, there are times when you need to be aggressive and responsive to the needs of your team. This is expected of you as manager, and a good leader knows when the time is right. Even though you do not want to be known as the person shouting, “The sky is falling!” you do need to sound the alarm when you start seeing the cracks. You will need to make the right decisions and take the necessary risks to change the situation. Also, if you feel it’s time to take your department to the next level, and you have done the cost-benefit analysis, then you should take the risk. Be thick-skinned and stand firm behind your decision. If you never take risks, you will never grow.
62. Have a mental toughness. You need to be able to deal with disappointments and adversity. Be cool under pressure, and don’t waste time worrying about what could have been. Learn from it and move on to the next project.
63. Be able to take criticism. Your actions when being criticized tell a lot about your strength in management. Whatever you do, do not be defensive. Your first reaction will be to take it personally, however, try to hold on to your emotions and stay cool. Really listen to what they have to say and don’t brush it off. If they are good points, be sure to acknowledge and address them in a professional, and even thankful, manner. If they are bad points, calmly state your objections, but ensure you will take the points into consideration. Do this without sounding sarcastic.
64. Be empathetic. When dealing with any crisis from your employees, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Looking at issues from their point of view will give you more insight on how to deal with emotional type of issues that come your way.
65. Keep a cool head. Employees and customers might be irrational, show no common sense, uncooperative, mean and disrespectful. When in a difficult situation, always keep a cool head, use a calm tone, and make sure you present yourself with an understanding attitude. Let them know that you do care and will do all that you can to resolve the issue. Always treat the other person with respect no matter how absurd they may be. Say please, sir, madam, thank you, or whatever sign of respect that is proper for the moment. Do this without using a condescending tone. If this problem truly goes beyond your control or reason, then you will have to take necessary steps with the employee, or pass the customer on to upper management to try and save the account. Be sure you have full documentation on everything that has led up to this point. Just remember, grace under pressure is absolutely needed in the world of management.
66. Don’t lose your temper. When you lose your temper you lose respect. You can show that you are serious about something by being a bit more stern and direct, but never blow your top. Have an indicator of sorts to use as a reminder the moment you are ready to explode. It can be an image or object, such as a wedding ring, that is meaningful to you. That will be your reminder to stop and think about what you're going to say next. It will be your “negative reaction” alert. Also, try to stay away from using foul language. You rarely see a truly respected leader cussing.
67. Dress the part. You will build subconscious respect as a leader amongst your team when you look and dress in a professional manner. If you are uncomfortable dressing professionally, or feel embarrassed because everyone knows you as a “jean” type of person, you need to change your attitude and dress the part. You never know when there might be an upper management meeting, surprise visit by the CEO, or a visit from an important customer. You need to always be ready to represent your department, both in appearance and knowledge. You should own at least one professional business looking suit with nice shoes. Men should always wear a tie when wearing a suit. This would also be a good time to change the department’s dress code if needed, especially if your employees deal with the customer in person. People tend to work more professionally when they dress more professionally. You will most likely have to work with Human Resources regarding any dress code modifications.
68. Be on time to work and any appointments. If you show up late, then you will slowly start seeing your supervisors and staff showing up late. This is a contagious habit that you do not want others to pick up. Build respect as a leader by being on time, or better yet, a few minutes early to work and appointments.
69. Try not to leave early. It brings down morale when the boss leaves early regularly. A few times here and there is actually all right, as it gives both you and the staff some relief, but you should not be known as the manager who cuts out early most of the time.
70. Try not to call out sick. Have the reputation that you never call out sick unless you are truly ill. If you call out sick frequently, your staff will as well. Being known as the manager that always comes to work, even when they are under the weather, is a strong leadership trait.
71. When there is manual work to be done, help out. Moving a couple of chairs or boxes every now and then shows that you are a team player and do not consider yourself too good for the task.
72. Try not to gossip, be too goofy, or joke around too much. You might gain some attention or get a laugh in the short-term, but in the long-term you will start losing respect and credibility. Some joking around is all right; just don’t be the manager who acts like a clown. You don’t want people joking about you behind your back. You should also try to squash employee gossip or mean comments being said about each other. Also, if rumors get out of control, set the record straight as soon as possible. However, don’t come across too serious and unfriendly. Just because you are a manager does not mean you no longer have a personality. Pick the right times to let your guard down and tell funny stories or a joke or two. Also laugh at stories and jokes told to you. People trust a person who has both a serious, yet funny side to them. Quickly try to tap into your memory of any stories, trivial tidbits, or quick one-liners that are relevant to the conversation at hand. Don’t be shy, as part of being a manager and an effective leader is being a people person. Humor can help relieve tension and keep things into perspective. Just be careful not to come across as too sarcastic or say anything that can offend or be considered unethical.
73. Be controlled and precise in your social interactions. Protect your integrity and reputation by having the foresight regarding the ramifications on what you say and do. Be careful when making decisions or determining specific actions that might have a negative social impact.
74. Act professional, even at parties. There will be times when you attend an office party or event where drinking is involved. Keep the after work drinking to a minimum. A couple times a year is fun and exciting for all, however, a regular habit usually turns into things being said that should be confidential. A sign of a good leader is to know when to walk away with your integrity still in tack.
75. Take a break when needed. When you start feeling stressed or overwhelmed, you should take a break and walk around the building or get a glass of water. Clear your mind while getting some exercise. You do not want to take your stress out on someone else, especially when unjustified. We will discuss more about how to deal with stress in lesson 6.
76. Do what you say you are going to do as soon as possible. You start establishing yourself as a leader when you show interest in making positive or necessary changes. When you do what you said you were going to do right away, you earn immediate respect. If, however, you do not follow up on your promise, you will start losing credibility as a leader. If you cannot do it, make sure you provide a solid reason why and let them know immediately. They will at least know you tried and did not just brush it off.
77. Be emotionally stable. Frustration and stress are challenges every leader and manager must face. Take your psychological maturity to the next level by having a leadership mentality embedded in your mind. You always need to be prepared and able to deal with stressful situations that come your way.
78. Don’t be defensive. The respect you have earned, or are trying to earn, will evaporate in just moments. This is not to say that you should not debate a point or have an opinion. You should not take a suggestion you do not like, or a performance related comment, too personally. Calmly reply, without excuses, that you will look into their suggestions or performance related improvements, and will get back to them as soon as possible.
79. Never talk negatively about customers or other departments. It is so easy to complain and criticize. People are always finding faults with customers or other departments. For example, customer service will complain that the sales department makes promises they cannot keep. Even when the complaint is justified, you do not want to add fuel to the fire. You might have a lighthearted thing to say like, “Sales sure seems to pass the buck.” Just make sure to follow it up with something like, “We need sales to sell or else they will not bring income into the company.” Then follow up with letting them know that if it gets too out of hand, you will meet with the sales persons manager. You should truly have a brief discussion with this person’s manager if it gets to that point. You also have to make sure to remind your staff that without your customers, there might not be a company.
80. Never backstab anyone, ever. It will always come back to haunt you. A person who is known as a backstabber is not known as a solid leader.
81. Try being a leader outside of the work place. Leading people may not be the most natural aspect of your personality, but you can use the skills taught in this course through volunteer work, such as being a coach, or other venture. The more you practice outside of work, the better you will be inside of work.