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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Leadership: 13 traits of a good leader

by Rajan Kaicker
executive chairman and managing director of FranklinCovey SouthAsia and RCS SouthAsia.

Generating trust amongst employees is one of the most important qualities that a leader must possess. Trust forms the foundation for effective communication, employee retention, and employee motivation. When trust exists in an organisation or in a relationship, almost everything else is easier and more comfortable to achieve. So, can you build trust when it does not exist? How do you maintain and build upon the trust you may currently have in your workplace? Let me put across the 13 behaviours that help in developing and maintaining trust amongst employees.
TALK STRAIGHT: Be clear and concise in your communication. There should be transparency and clarity in what you speak. Be honest and demonstrate integrity.
DEMONSTRATE RESPECT: Genuinely care and respect everyone and make sure you express it correctly. Be nice to employees who don't belong to your team as well. Be kind and empathetic towards your employee's issues and grievances.
CREATE TRANSPARENCY: Be Open and authentic. Don't hide information or have hidden agendas from employees. After all, everyone in your team is working towards a common goal. Always operate on the premise of "what you see is what you get"
RIGHT WRONGS: If there has been an error from your end, apologise quickly. If possible, be ready to provide compensation. Do not cover things up and own up for your mistake. Always demonstrate personal humility. Make sure you always do the right thing and not what is convenient.
SHOW LOYALTY: Most often ignored, but you must always give credit to hard working employees. You must also be the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves. Avoid speaking negatively about your employees behind the backs. Address problems and issues face to face and provide favourable solutions.
DELIVER RESULTS: Make sure you have a track record of results. Accomplish the task you are hired for. Never overpromise and under deliver. Avoid making excuses for not delivering.
GET BETTER: Always make an effort to learn and improve. Do not be over confident about your skills and knowledge. Develop a formal and informal feedback system. Thank people for feedback but make sure you act upon the feedback you receive.
CONFRONT REALITY: Do not have unrealistic goals and expectations. Always meet issues as they are. Address tough situations directly. Always acknowledge what is the unsaid and lead conversation courageously.
CLARIFY EXPECTATIONS: Be clear while disclosing and revealing expectations from employees. Make sure you discuss and validate your expectations from them. If there is a difference of thinking, renegotiate with them. Always make sure that the expectations are clear.
PRACTICE ACCOUNTABILITY: Always hold yourself and others accountable and responsible for their respective tasks. Take responsibility for results, be it good or bad. Communicate with your employees about how they fare in their tasks.
LISTEN FIRST: Don't make any assumptions. Listen to your employees before speaking. Don't just listen with ears but also keep your eyes and heart open. Understand the employee's situation, and then diagnose a solution.
KEEP COMMITMENTS: Make sure you commit carefully. Always state your intent while committing. Make keeping your commitments the symbol of your honour. Don't break an employee's confidence in you.
EXTEND TRUST: The last and the most important point, extend trust abundantly to those who have made an effort to earn your trust. Also extend trust conditionally to those who are in the process of earning your trust. Don't withhold your trust in employees even if it involves risk.
Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time. So fundamentally, trust is the cornerstone, the foundation, for everything you'd like your organisation to be now and for everything you'd like it to become in the future. Lay this groundwork well.
Source Times Ascent