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Creating Successful Leaders

In this blog, I have often talked about “love leadership” and being a compassionate, caring leader. That is vitally important for fostering open communication, developing an atmosphere of trust, and keeping your team energized and engaged.

Leading with love, however, does NOT mean being a pushover. It is crucial to not only show empathy and genuine concern for your staff, but to also create a culture of accountability. How can you balance the two? Try these five steps:

1. Communicate with Clarity

Aim for clarity, every step of the way. Set clear goals and expectations, and be transparent about the consequences if those expectations are not met. If a deadline is not met, for instance, it should come as no surprise that the person or team who missed the deadline will need to work overtime to make up for their tardiness. Or, if someone is consistently turning in sub-par work, that person should know what is coming (a probationary period, perhaps, or working with a mentor to improve their work).

Communicating with clarity also means encouraging your team to ask questions. Be transparent, create an open line of communication, and be open to modifying expectations if new information comes to light.

2. Be Consistent

A work team can always spot favoritism. Make sure you’re holding everyone accountable, not just certain team members. There will be times, of course, when some people need a little extra time or assistance to complete a project, but that doesn’t mean they are exempt from expectations. Be fair, but also be consistent.

3. Know When to Make Exceptions

Even if you’ve made your expectations clear, there are times when exceptions are necessary. Use your judgment on this and take all aspects of a situation into account before enacting consequences. If someone shows up late to a meeting because their car broke down while driving their kids to daycare, give that person a little understanding and grace. If, however, that same person is consistently late to meetings, it’s a good idea to sit down with them, discover the root of the problem, and strategize ways to help them become more punctual (perhaps their children’s daycare doesn’t open until later, in which case the solution might be to push back morning meetings by half an hour).

4. Make Sure the Consequences Match the Shortcoming

There is a big difference between turning in an assignment a few hours late and yelling at a customer. If the offense is minor, usually it’s possible to work past it. Sit down with the person, talk about what happened, and come up with a solution, going forward. If the offense is major, you may have to take extreme measures. It is never pleasant to do this, but some actions are inexcusable and go beyond a simple strategy session.

5. Know When to Make Hard Decisions

If someone repeatedly falls short of expectations or makes serious errors that affect the entire team or company, they should know that their job is potentially at stake. If you have tried several different approaches to work through their troubles, they should understand when they’re on their “final chance.” Know when to draw that line in the sand. You can be a compassionate, empathetic leader, and still dole out consequences when necessary. As long as expectations have been clear every step of the way, a probationary period or a dismissal should not come as a surprise.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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