Leadership: It's the Little Things That Count


Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...
Warren Buffett  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How would your employees describe you?

  • Modest?
  • Considerate?
  • Approachable?

Frequently, these terms describe some of those at the top of the corporate world—people like Warren Buffett and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. They are CEOs beloved by their employees and are leaders not only on business, but in the values of their corporations.

Most bosses have not reached that level of the CEO stratosphere, and often their management skills are too harsh and dismissive. They bark orders to subordinates and are difficult to reach for one-on-one face time.

Employees shouldn’t have to catch an executive in the lunch area to discuss an issue or ask a question. Being unavailable and aloof is not leadership—and is hardly effective management.

To be a strong leader means respect—not only receiving it, but giving it as well.

Becoming an exceptional manager is not as much a matter of grand gestures; often it is little things that truly count. A few thoughts on the details of leadership:

  • A principled leader values time—theirs and that of their employees.

For busy managers, time is clearly at a premium. The same is true for employees. Set a schedule and stick to it; it shows respect for employees.

  • The first three minutes are essential.

Making an impact is crucial to leadership, and first impressions are paramount. When first meeting an employee or customer, your body language and tone of voice is critical to setting a positive tone. Set the pace in the first three minutes, and prove yourself as a leader that cares about others.

  • Pay attention to what you are doing.

Interaction with others should devote all you attention. Avoid the temptation to take calls or scan your iPad. Employees value when a busy manager takes the time to hear what they have to say and is more likely to remain loyal to the people who care about them.

  • Have an open mind.

Examine your business as if you were “outside looking in.” Avoid clinging to one viewpoint. The best leaders listen, learn and see a problem from many sides. Take time to examine an issue through the employee or customer’s eyes; it will provide valuable insight on ways to make things better for everyone involved.

  • Give everyone a reason to feel good.

This may be the characteristic that works the hardest for a leader. Every interaction should end with everyone feeling better than when it started. Even if it is a slight sense of forward movement—knowing that there was some progress, without a solid resolution. It may be difficult to realize every time, but there are times when a little effort is appreciated.

Taking time to sweat the details—especially when interacting with co-workers and employees—is the character of a great leader.

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