As I read about leadership and management topics and observe events in my consulting services that occur within organizations, I sometimes wonder where some of today¡¦s managers and leaders get their rationale for making decisions regarding people. It¡¦s almost like they have lost plain old common sense when it comes to relating and working with the people they lead and go out of their way to create chaos. Here are a few ideas I¡¦ve picked up during my 50+ years of being thrust into leadership and management roles that I hope prove valuable to you as you strive to bring your common sense leadership into your world of work.

1. Provide clear direction. Too often leaders assume workers understand their instructions regarding job details. Never forget that it up to the person sending the message to make sure that those receiving it understand the meaning. Never assume, and always be very explicit with your directions. Ask for feedback to be sure understanding is clear and, if necessary, provide training to shore-up skills to get the job done right. Don¡¦t set up people to fail. Remember their failure does reflect on your leadership abilities.

2. Recognize and reward good performance. We all like to experience feelings of importance. Genuinely be appreciative when workers get the job done right, on time, and at minimum expense. Use staff meetings and on-the-spot encouragement to let people know you appreciate their efforts. When appropriate, and consistent with organizational policies, offer a reward. It can be as simple as a sincere thank you, a lunch with you or as rewarding as a promotion with more responsibility and pay. Recognize and win!

3. Strive to remove tension in the workplace. Research shows that too little or too much tension has the same result¡Xsuboptimal productivity. Maintaining the proper tension is a balancing act for leaders. One must recognize that when tension is too low employees tend to relax, not take on challenges, reduce their efforts and lower their productivity. Like wise, when tension is too high, the workplace becomes prone to employee accidents and sicknesses. Anxieties and stress begin to dominate the workplace thus also losing productivity. Common sense leaders strive to find the proper middle ground. One must always have their antenna up to pick up worker signals. One must also understand that leadership style is a tension builder or tension reducer.

4. Learn to emulate the traits great leaders possess. Extensive research into what qualities great leaders possess has identified the following as important abilities. Use your common sense and see to it that these traits become part of your leadership style. It¡¦s a good list to start creating a bold, new approach to leading others.

„X Vision, purpose, and direction: Do you know where you want to take the organization, why you want to get there and how you will do it?

„X Technical / Administrative skills: Do you have the understanding and tools to get the job done and can you keep the activities flowing in an effective and efficient manner?

„X Cognition / idea presentation / thinking skills: Can you process the information (knowledge) needed in a way that is understandable and are your people able to sufficiently utilize their thinking abilities to help smooth the path to success?

„X Drive and motivation: Are you willing to persist and strive to overcome obstacles and moments of discouragement in order to accomplish the vision?

„X Trust and respect (in both directions): Have I earned respect and trust rather than demanding it?

„X Teamwork and collaboration: Do I have a good understanding that I cannot do everything alone?

„X Ability to empower and enable performance: Am I willing to trust that people can help and do I support training to grow their skills?

„X Capacity to coach, appraise, and reward performance (give feedback): Do I recognize the difference between good and poor performance?

5. Workers rank these abilities in order of importance to them. As part of the research, workers were shown the above list and ranked the list in order of importance to them. As you carry out your common sense approach to leading, look at how these workers ranked the list and then run the same research with your team of workers. That approach is clearly common sense leadership and might make for an interesting discovery.

„X Capacity to coach, appraise, and reward performance
„X Ability to empower and enable performance
„X Teamwork and collaboration
„X Trust and respect
„X Vision, purpose, and direction
„X Cognition / idea presentation / thinking skills
„X Technical / Administrative Skills
„X Drive and Motivation

6. Never forget people are watching. I¡¦m always amazed at leaders who continually alienate workers, demonstrate an untrusting management style, grab power and control by stepping on others, and in general are not people persons. These individuals clearly have lost their sense of direction. They lack real common sense when it comes to leading and relating to others. Workers watch your actions much more intently than they listen to your words and the end result is a high tension, low productivity working environment when there is incongruency.

7. Maximize the skills and talents of those you lead. If you have someone who brings a skill set to the table and you ignore seeking ways to utilize those skills, you are clearly shortchanging yourself, the organization and your worker. Common sense leadership knows that blending all the skills and talents of team members makes for a more effective, efficient, and energetic team. Do you have a clear understanding of all the gifts you¡¦ve been handed and, are you putting these gifts into play? Common sense says that is how it should be done.

Closing Thoughts

We have a leadership crisis in this country at every level. I don¡¦t know why except to think that we have become a very impersonal society where we seldom place the needs of others as an important part of our interactions. Self-centeredness dominates and servant leadership is a rarity.

I recently came across this survey of characteristics for the next president of the United States. As you consider your vote for our next leader, why not use the list as part of your screening process. Information on the survey is found on the website.

1. Insightful Judgment
2. Visionary
3. Trustworthy
4. Gets Things Done
5. Inspires Others
6. Good Judge of People
7. Influences Others
8. Courageous
9. Confident

Author's Bio: 

Billy Arcement, MEd., is a Professional Speaker, Leadership Strategist and President of The Results Group. He wrote the books, Searching for Success and Journeying on Holy Ground. Learn more about his services at „¦2008. All rights reserved. Use by permission.