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March 2012 - Leaders Must Help People

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John A. Kline, PhD jkline@klinespeak.com
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Dr. John KlineMy November 2011 column contained a poem I wrote for 300 freshmen leadership students at Troy University—“Five P’s for Leaders”—Priority, Positivity, Preparation, Perseverance, and People.  Previous columns have each treated the first four P’s. But the leader’s first priority must be People.

Know people.  This does not mean merely knowing who they are.  It also means knowing what they are, what they value, what they desire, what makes them tick. The February 2008 and March 2008 columns tell things leaders and managers must do to really know the people who report to them.  But leaders must also know their colleagues, their competitors, and most importantly, their customers.  Failure to know the likes, dislikes, desires, and needs of the people in any of these categories will lead to problems.

Motivate people.  Technically, everyone is motivated.  Some people are motivated to come to work early and work hard; others are motivated to come late and do the bare minimum.  What can a leader do to ensure proper motivation? In 2006 I wrote seven columns on “How to Motivate People,” but quite simply it comes down to this: listen to them, encourage them, and let them know you care about them and value their contributions.  People want feedback, and when you must give corrective feedback—never think of it or refer to it as negative feedback—give it in private; and always give it with the positive affirmation that you know they can and will do better.  And in most cases, they will.

Serve people. Leaders must see themselves and others must see them as servants.  Servant leaders put others first.

It is okay to look out for number one in all you say and do;
Just as long as you remember, number one is not about you.
It’s all about the people, your sisters and your brothers;
The secret to successful leadership is to be a servant to others.
Leaders help people by knowing them, motivating them, and serving them.
John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

March 2012 - Leaders Must Help People
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