Do you want to be “liked” or “respected” as a leader? Are you willing to stick your neck out for the people you lead to protect them? Can you lead?
These are questions I asked myself when I was first asked if I wanted to be a supervisor. I thought of all the things I wanted a supervisor to be, how I wanted him to act, the risk I wanted him to take and if he could do the job he wanted me to do. I’ve experienced poor leadership to the point where there was neither respect nor liking of the individual. Some days I wouldn’t give 100% because I didn’t want to see him around.
A poor supervisor can be liked but not respected by his peers, and a good supervisor can be respected but not liked. With no respect you have no foundation to stand on or reason for anyone to follow you. “Respect is earned not given”, this quote is what all supervisors/leaders should stand by. This should be the creed that you not only do as a person but especially do as a leader. Poor leadership comes from what a supervisor puts into it. If you put out poor instructions then you will get poor results. If you have poor character then you’ll make a worthless movie.
Your integrity speaks more than words. Your subordinates are like kids, they will do what they see. If they see you working hard for them, then they will work hard for you. Now you can’t fix stupid; all that is, is a cry for help. Help them to be better than what they are, or at least help them see that they are worth more than their peers think they are.
Some supervisors say “well, that’s not my job”. Agreed, but if you make your subordinates feel that they have the best job in the world, and that one day they can be a supervisor like yourself, then you have gone above and beyond to take your team to the next level.
Being liked can be a double edged sword. On one side, who doesn’t want to be liked, but on the other when you’re liked it is sometimes confused between being a friend and being a supervisor. The two differences have to be understood at the beginning. If the person(s) that likes you doesn’t take you seriously then the rest of the peers that respect you won’t either. If you can’t separate the two you need to find another job or supervise another group of people, because you will be heading for a disaster.
A good supervisor is respected because he knows the job; he has been in those shoes, trying to prove himself to his supervisor of his competence and knows what it takes to be a leader. You have to be strong minded and not submissive, meaning if you get chewed out by your supervisor don’t let your subordinates see you sweat. Don’t come back with a bad attitude, taking your chewing out on your team.
I always say “it’s the delivery” of the information you pass on to your team. If you give that information, no matter how much you disagree with it, in a negative way your team will take your attitude and make it their own. Take the time to learn each one individually because you can’t talk to Sally like you talk to Ralph.
Know what each of their strong points is and build on it, or find their weak points and help make it strong. Your job is not tearing people down but building them up. If they fail, that means you fail. Build trust with your team so they will know you have their back and willing to stick your neck out for them. If you are successful in that, they will walk through walls and fire for you whether you’re wrong or right.
Know that you can’t make a person do anything but if they respect you they will do about any job related thing you ask them too. Let your people know you will never ask them to do something you haven’t or wouldn’t do. Make them feel like they are part of a team and you expect them to work as a team. Trust is the key to success, or failure in a leadership position.
I was a supervisor over a newly formed shift; 6 months later that shift was running in cruise control. I found each individual’s strong point, weakness and gave them all experience in leadership positions. I helped them reached their full potential. There were officers on other shifts wanting to come to my shift, not because I was liked, it was because I had earned the respect and the trust and it showed through the actions and attitude of my shift. Today out of the twenty individuals I supervised, six are now supervisors and one has gone on to lead his own unit.
Take the time to learn the job you have been tasked with. Build on a “team” concept. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong. Pride and fear can be your worst enemy in your professional life. You will receive recognition by the way your team performs. A good leader will show his team how to be great leaders. If you can’t motivate yourself, you can’t motivate others. Know that your team is only as strong as the weakest member. Don’t be the supervisor that lives by his title; easy come, easy go, and you could be back where you started from or out the boat all together. And after you have succeeded in leading a few people, ask yourself “What’s My Next Move”? How do I get to the next level?
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