In my last post, I talked about how your employees are the key to your institution's success, and offered up a few ways that can foster an environment of satisfied employees. Today, I want to talk about how effective leadership is another piece of the "successful organization puzzle."
Let's face it, being a great leader is no easy task. Sometimes the day-to-day demands of management and serving customers takes precedent over investing time on team building, employee development, and even proper and thorough training, but I think most true leaders understand the value in carving out time to not only work on their personal leadership skills, but to engage and develop employees. Whether you're a seasoned leader, or brand new to the role, there's never a time like the present to evaluate your leadership style, and consider a few techniques to ensure you are being the kind of effective leader that your employees can look up to and learn from.
Listen to your employees
The best leaders listen to their employees and solicit feedback and input, rather than simply talking at them. All employees want to feel valued and heard, it's a natural human instinct, and when you empower your employees to share their ideas and provide honest feedback and opportunities for improvement, your entire organization can benefit and improve because of it. Sure, no one likes to hear negative feedback, but constructive criticism can lead to being a better leader and person, and any improvements made to your institution can impact your customers, which can directly impact your bottom line for the better.
Learn what motivates each member of your team
It's easy to give each employee on your payroll a daily/weekly/monthly task list and set the expectation that it's their responsibility to get each task done, on time, and to your standards, but a better leadership method is to motivate employees to complete their tasks because it matters that they do. If your loan officers don't offer vehicle protection coverage to each and every auto loan borrower at the close of the sell, your valued borrower could be at risk for being on the hook for any balance on their auto loan after an insurance payout if they are in an auto accident and total their vehicle. Do your employees understand the impact this could have on your borrowers—to their livelihood?
Moreover, are they equipped with the proper training and tools to actually be able to confidently offer ancillary products and services? Effective leaders understand how to motivate their employees to do their jobs by emphasizing the impact that they can personally have to the organization and to each individual customer, and they give them the tools to get the job done.
Walk the walk
No one wants to work for a boss who makes demands that they aren't willing to do themselves. For example, if you reprimand your employees for tardiness, yet find yourself walking into the office late more often than not, you are not setting a good example, and your employees will ultimately find you a bit hypocritical. Your choices and behavior have an inevitable ripple effect on your employees. When you work hard, have a positive attitude, are an open and honest communicator, etc., your employees will follow suit. Leading by example is a great way to command respect and loyalty, rather than demanding it.
You might also be interested in: Recognition: It's the Little Things That Matter
Take accountability for your mistakes
Nothing fosters a negative work environment more than leaders who point fingers, play the blame game, throw others under the bus, and refuse to take accountability for their actions. It's okay to make mistakes—it's inevitable, actually—but a good leader takes responsibility for them and takes steps to learn from their missteps.
Everyone's leadership style differs, and I personally don't believe there is a perfect recipe for success, but in my experience, these four actions set great leaders apart from their mediocre counterparts.