By Brett Cairns
Business management is a fairly widely appreciated concept; far less appreciated is the importance of leadership to business success. As well, leadership and management are fundamentally different concepts. While both are important, effective leadership affects the direction and success of most businesses.
Fundamentally, leadership is about people and management is about resources—leaders lead other people and people manage resources. When people talk about managing people as resources they are rarely ever able to get the best from their people. In contrast, leaders can and do motivate others to perform their best, and in doing so, achieve great things for their businesses.
Businesses can benefit from implementing the following five leadership DRIVE principles:
Determination: Starting, being, and staying in business requires determined effort. Often there are obstacles to be overcome and challenges to be met. Leaders of businesses should be determined and not deterred. They should focus on what is strategically important, and persistently work towards the realization of the goals that they set.
Successful leaders understand the importance of having motivated people working for them. Accordingly, they provide their people with short and mid-term objectives in order to achieve the goals of their businesses.
Reward: Business leaders know that motivated people will respond to challenges and that they will work towards specific objectives. Sometimes forgotten is the equally important need to reward the people who meet or exceed the established objectives.
People will work hard for other people, but they like to be recognized for their efforts. When people meet or exceed objectives, they should be tangibly rewarded. Time off and/or bonuses go a long way as methods of recognition for great performance. Morale and productivity go hand in hand and when your people are motivated and happy, productivity will follow.
Integrity: Some people view power, prestige, and material things as measures of importance. In contrast, true leaders know and understand the importance of character, behavior, and conduct.
Integrity is a foundational ethical principle of character that is based on honesty and truthfulness. It is about doing the right thing for the right reasons–even, and especially when, nobody is looking. It should be embodied in one’s value system and used to guide thought, speech, actions, and behaviors.
Who we are in life and how we treat other people is much more important than what we do in life. This is the true measure by which we will be remembered.
Value: People want to be valued and appreciated. Leaders know that it is important to treat followers with dignity, fairness, and respect; they also understand that it is essential to understand who does what and how much each person contributes to the business and reward them accordingly.
General platitudes given to groups of people often do more harm than good, especially if the people who are really doing the work are not recognized and valued. Leaders should get out of their offices and demonstrate a genuine interest in their people and in their value. Without employees a business can fail, or at a minimum, not realize its full potential.
Empowerment: Motivated people can do great things when they have the resources at their disposal to get the job done well. Leaders should ensure that their people are properly trained and have access to the resources that they need to succeed; at the same time, they should give their people some discretion on how the job gets done.
People have wants and needs, and most want to make meaningful contributions. When employees are told what to do and how to do it, they can be robotic as they accomplish tasks. On the other hand, when they are given some latitude to get a task done, they become creative and their solutions are more innovative and effective. The end result is people who are more fully invested in their solutions and in the overall business.