For every story you’ve heard about a C.E.O. leading his or her company to greatness, there are thousands of stories of department heads, supervisors, and cubicle workers who have lead their own areas to company-wide success. Some of these leaders are rewarded with things like raises and promotions, some are not, but all are critical to the success of their company, and will help raise the leader’s own confidence and performance skills at work.
1. Leaders Are Responsible. Passing the buck may feel like the easy way out, but in order to build trust with your coworkers (those you report to and those who report to you), you need to accept responsibility for things that you have done, both directly and indirectly. Which leads directly to:
2. Leaders Learn From Their Mistakes. Mistakes need to be acknowledged, fixed, and learned from. Thomas Edison, when asked if he was dismayed that he failed so many times before finding the right filament for his bulb, famously remarked: “I haven’t failed. I’ve simply found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
3. Leaders Communicate. Talk. Write. Send smoke signals if you have to. You have an issue? Tell them. They can’t read your mind. Encourage your coworkers to talk to you, whether they work for you or you for them.
4. Leaders Explain. While this can look like the trait right above, it goes beyond. Don’t be arbitrary. Be able to explain why you did something, and be willing to discuss it (there’s that “communication” thing again). Even if you’re not agreed with, at least you should be able to defend your reasoning for it.
5. Leaders Have Enthusiasm. If you’re not happy doing what you’re doing, no one will want to follow your lead. Yes, you will have bad days. But the more excitement you show in your day-to-day activities, the more contagious that will be. Smiles are helpful for that too.
6. Leaders Are Consistent. Have a policy. Acting on a whim will confuse the people you work for, as well as the people who work with and for you.
7. Leaders Collaborate. Not only accept help, solicit help. People need to feel useful, and besides that, you’re so much more apt to get better ideas for your project with more brains brainstorming.
8. Leaders Help Others Grow. Operate like you’re grooming your successor. Many successors. Help people learn what you know. They’ll appreciate it, and so will the people around you.
9. Leaders Delegate. Train your people well, and let them fly. Don’t micromanage. People need to believe that their opinions are valuable. And besides, if you’ve trained them right, they’ll do it right. Right?
10. Leaders Are the Workers They Want Working for Themselves. “Do as I say AND do as I do.” Set a good example, If you tell people they should be on time and you stroll in 20 minutes late every day, people around you will think all of your advice is probably equally faulty.