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CCS Blog

Don’t Fail as a Leader

by Jim Martin

The late Steve Jobs was a great business leader. He had incredible vision and an ability to focus that vision on the production of innovative products. Great leadership requires more: it must avoid, as Jobs did, the pitfalls that often sink otherwise innovative entrepreneurs.

The first is vacillation. Nothing is worse than a leader who cannot make decisions when they need to be made. You’ll seldom have 100% of the data you think you need. If you’re unsure with the data you have, seek out expert opinions and advice. Get a level of comfort that’s right for you (quickly) and make the decision, but only make it once. Don’t change it for anything less than dramatic new data.

Secondly, don’t be a complainer. Complaining about your staff or their lack of work ethic does less good than working with them to change their behavior (if it truly is bad). A key part of your job is to set the tone and execute what’s necessary to lead your team forward. If something’s pervasively wrong, find and fix the root cause. If necessary, prioritize and check each item off one by one. If the best solution is to fire a bad employee, do that. Don’t procrastinate. Bad employees seldom improve.

Thirdly, don’t micromanage your staff. That’s not a productive use of your time, and your staff will work more effectively if they feel they are trusted. If you have to manage everything, you’ve hired the wrong people. Empower your staff to do their jobs and let them make decisions at their level. Institute measures of accountability, and reflect the results in salaries. That will be far more effective than watching over everyone’s shoulder.

Part of the vision of a successful manager is an understanding of the difference between a leader and a boss. Don’t let yourself become the latter.