Ten Basic Rules to Being a Good Leader

Bryan Brulotte - Unity. Prosperity. Compassion. #CanadaUnited

Rule #1: Be fair

I fundamentally believe that if employees know they will be treated fairly and that their contributions will be fairly rewarded, they will become more involved in searching for ways to improve productivity and quality.

Rule #2: Encourage employee feedback

Employees usually know better than anyone else what works best in their own workplace. It’s also critical that as a manager you maintain an environment where employees can talk about problems that arise in the workplace. That way, if something isn’t right, you can flush it out and deal with it.

Rule #3: Be a motivator, not a boss

The best managers are great motivators. A manager has to motivate employees to constantly look for solutions and think about how to solve problems, but they will do that only if their heart is in the business. Sometimes managers get caught up with the notion that they are there to enforce rules or punish infractions. When employees feel that someone is standing behind them with a whip, there’s no way you’ll be able to motivate or inspire them to achieve much greater success.

Rule #4: Stay on top of things

As a manager, you’ve got to know your business inside out. That means having a firm handle on all aspects of the operation, right down to knowing where the washroom supplies are stored and when the garbage gets picked up. Because when managers start overlooking the smaller details, that’s when bigger things begin to fall through the cracks and problems begin to snowball.

Rule #5: Be open, honest and transparent

Workers are smart: if they know management isn’t straight up or is hiding something, you’ll never win their trust or confidence. I had always promised myself that when I ran my own business, everything would be upfront and out in the open. If you’re open and honest with employees, and if you consult with them, they’ll walk through fire with you.

Rule #6: Know your employees

Managers have to get to know their employees and you have to prove — day in and day out — that you have a concern for their well-being. What are their hopes and aspirations and future plans? What are their concerns? The only way you can know that is if you’re spending time with them in person and getting to know them.

Rule #7: Be a jack of all trades

If you’re a manager, then you’re the No. 1 human resource person, the No. 1 finance person, and the No. 1 technician. You’ve also got to be part psychiatrist, part lawyer. And you’ve got to know some marketing, accounting and engineering. The fact is, you’ve got to be a jack of all trades to be a truly effective manager.

Rule #8: Don’t get holed up in your office

Keep your finger on the pulse of the workplace. Make sure you take time to talk to your employees and know what’s on their minds. But you can’t do that when you’re holed up in your office all day on the phone or online. Good managers are always available to discuss issues that popped up from time to time.

Rule #9: There are no bad employees — only bad managers

We’ve all seen examples of a bad hockey or football coach who is always blaming the players for the team’s losses. After a while, the team owner finally clues in that maybe the players aren’t playing so well because they’re getting no support, direction or motivation from the coach. If your employees aren’t happy or aren’t producing, if they’re making mistakes and missing deadlines, take a good look in the mirror. The problem just might be you.

Rule #10: The unbreakable rule

There will always be times when you can’t deliver on a commitment or a promise because of extraordinary circumstances beyond your control. When that happens, most people usually understand. But generally speaking, if you promise something to your employees or customers, you can never break your word. Once you lose their trust you will never get it back. Break this rule, and you may as well close up shop.