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Become a Great Leader

Have you ever had a boss that you would be willing do anything for? I mean the type of leader that motivated you to give your all for the company and its customers. Personally, I attribute much of my success to a couple of great bosses—men and women wh

Have you ever had a boss that you would be willing do anything for? I mean the type of leader that motivated you to give your all for the company and its customers. Personally, I attribute much of my success to a couple of great bosses men and women who knew me, cared about my wellbeing, and directed me in ways to be more productive and enthusiastic. These great bosses inspired me to deliver top-notch customer service and achieve the highest sales in company history.

In tough times, it is imperative to get the most out of your people, and to do so you have to transform yourself from the role of a manager of employees to a leader of people. The best way to accomplish this is by strengthening the working relationships between you and your staff.

Although any change may seem difficult, it’s really not hard once you get started. Here are a few leadership techniques that I have seen produce powerful results.

By opening two-way communication with your employees, you provide many potentially beneficial aspects of leadership. Asking your employees questions will force them to think, while deepening your relationship with them. Try questions like, “What do you see that I don’t see?” or, “How can we make things better for our customers?” Start your next staff meeting by asking the attendees to list a number of things that they believe will make the company better.

Most leaders try to surround themselves with the best employees and staff, but never listen to what they have to say. Listening to their suggestions builds esteem among your staff and reinforces their confidence in you. It shows your employees that you genuinely care about their opinion, as well as fostering an environment where new ideas are shared. Don’t interrupt. Don’t change the subject. Be honest with yourself and realize that you do not have the best answer in all situations, at every time. You’ll be surprised how many times you learn something that is actionable. At the end of the month, publish a list of three things that you learned from listening to your people. By the end of the year you will have a list of 36 things that will likely improve customer relations, revenues, and profits.

This demonstrates your integrity. While you can’t act on every suggested action item that your people come up with, acting on a few of them sends a powerful message that tells your people that they are encouraged to be part of the solution. If it becomes apparent that you do not take your employees or their ideas seriously, your relationship with your staff—and ultimately, your business will suffer.

During your next staff meeting go around the room and ask each person, “What is the most outstanding thing that you have done over the past month that added value to the company that you are proud of?” In doing so you will establish a culture of added value. Because this exercise is done

Mike “Sparky” Detmer is vice president of sales and marketing for Niles Audio and a member of the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) Multi-Room Audio Video (MRAV) council board. with the entire staff, you also will leverage peer pressure to ensure that everyone is expected to add value to the company.

This is arguably one of the most important tools in building better relationships with your employees. Although tangible recognitions are important to all employees (promotions, raises, bonuses, etc.), sometimes a company may not have the resources for such generosity. The thing that is often overlooked is the power of the spoken word. Everybody wants to be complemented and will work harder for you when they are. So take the time to recognize accomplishments in ways that are relevant to each individual. Find out how each person wants to be recognized or rewarded when they do something great in their job. Give praise, recognition, and complements to as many people as possible every single day, and be open with this recognition. By overcoming the “ego issues” associated with some CEOs, you will go a long way in promoting loyalty among your employees.