Leadership is not about position. It is not about power. Leadership is about influence. Poor leaders don’t understand this, so they spend their time flexing muscles, raising their voices, bullying others, and imposing their will. Good leaders do understand this truth, so they focus their attention on improving their ability to influence.
As a baseball coach or scout, your leadership influence is vital to your success. It is a key ingredient. Ironically, I had a head baseball coach and a scouting director contact me last week by email and shared how much they value the characteristic of influence in leadership, however were not sure of some specific action steps they could take to live it out more effectively.
I’m glad they asked. Below are 10 action steps you should consider to help improve your ability to influence the people you lead. I hope they are helpful.
Treat people like human beings rather than human resources.
Too often, leaders threaten those they are lead, use them, or neglect them. Remember, the people you lead are just that: PEOPLE. Leaders who write people off and treat them poorly always reap the negative benefits of those actions later. People don’t care how much you know – until they know how much you care.
Err on the side of generosity.
Be generous with your time. Be generous with your resources. Be generous with forgiveness, praise, and encouragement. Yes, this will cost you, but the results will be well worth it.
Always let people know where they stand.
It is leadership cruelty to let under-performing team members think they’re doing well and to let excellent team members wonder if they’re succeeding. Give your team members clear direction and keep them abreast of how you view their progress.
Believe in your team.
People beat themselves up a lot; they don’t need you to add any bruises to their collection. Help their confidence by believing in the people on your team. Look for the untapped potential in all of your team members. Tell them you are proud of them. Tell them you believe in them. When you reprimand someone, make sure you genuinely believe they can improve. If you don’t believe in your team, you have the wrong people on your team, you have people in the wrong positions, or you are too cynical. Figure out which it is and address the issue immediately!
Praise people publicly and correct them privately.
Never, never, never, never reprimand people publicly. You’ll lose equity with the person being corrected and the people hearing the reprimand. Always, always, always encourage people publicly. This gives a boost to the person being praised and gives hope to those hearing the encouraging words.
Refuse to respond in anger.
This can be challenging at times. I know, because I have made this mistake in the past. You probably have as well. When a team member fails, don’t explode. If you’re mad, go somewhere to cool off before you address the issue. When you explode, you make the people you lead afraid of telling you when something is wrong. Losing your temper is the fastest way to create a culture where your team members lie to your face and cover up their mistakes. Can you say, “unhealthy?”
When you make a mistake, admit it. Tell your team members that you regret your actions. DON’T MAKE EXCUSES or say, “I’m sorry, (but)…” Just say, “I’m sorry.” The people you lead don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do want you to be humble.
Send hand-written notes.
In an era of e-mails, texts, tweets and Facebook wall posts, it’s truly astounding to be given a hand-written note. Send hand-written apologies, thank yous, and notes of encouragement. Your team will be moved by the fact that you’ve taken a little extra time for them.
Strive for excellence.
I’ve heard it said; “Excellence honors God and inspires people.” I couldn’t agree more. As you strive for and expect excellence, your team will respond. People want to do remarkable things. They want what they do to matter. Aiming for quality results contributes to a culture of excitement, hope, confidence, and expectation.
Honor your word.
Nothing will undermine your leadership influence faster than inconsistency. Never forget; people judge themselves by their intentions, but they judge you by your actions. When you don’t do what you say, people begin to think you lack integrity. They may overlook it at first, but eventually, they’ll think you are full of hot air (at best) or an outright liar (at worst). Do your absolute best to always follow through on all of your commitments no matter what!
To sum it up, live life with the end in mind. Live a life that values character and conduct, and leverage your influence that lead others to do the same. You will not regret it!
Q: Are there any other suggestions or action steps you would add to this list?