Monday, July 03, 2000


Leadership takes effort

By Michael A. Crom
Gannett News Service

        Question: Help! I recently was made the supervisor of facilities for my office, and I don't know where to begin.

        For five years, ever since I got this job right out of high school, I've just been doing what I was told. If equipment needed to be moved to a new office, I did it — then checked in for the next assignment.

        I filled in when the former supervisor was on vacation, but he always left a detailed list of assignments.

        Now I have to supervise three other people, and I'm being held accountable for their productivity. I'm beginning to think I should have turned down the job.

        Answer: You are suffering from a common phenomenon in today's workplace. Companies are growing quickly and labor is tight, so people like you increasingly are being promoted to supervisory positions without any train ing.

        At the same time, many top executives think that if you do a job well, you can supervise others doing it. They don't realize how different the skills are.

        You now are being asked to become a leader, to take responsibility for others and for decisions that may affect many people. And while your job certainly has components that may require supervisory training in the future, there are basic leadership skills that can get you off to a good start:

        • Understand the basics of leadership. Leadership is not an accident, and it's not something people are born with.

        Dale Carnegie did research into history's great leaders and found that their leadership styles are nearly identical. In addition, they all took their position extremely seriously; they recognized that leadership has unique challenges, and they worked hard to meet them. The following lists summarize the most important traits of effective, and ineffective, leaders:

        The effective leader...

        Guides people.

        Inspires enthusiasm.

        Says, “Let's do.”

        Makes work interesting.

        Relies upon cooperation.

        Says “we.”

        Encourages creativity.

        Asks questions.


        The ineffective leader...

        Drives people.

        Instills fear.

        Says, “do.”

        Makes work drudgery.

        Relies upon authority.

        Says “I,” “I,” “I.”

        Dictates tasks.

        Gives answers.


        • Plan. Perhaps the biggest difference between your former job and today's is the need to plan. I'm sure you've already discovered that you must plan the day's work so that your team is most efficient. However, you also need to define a vision for your department and communicate that vision to every employee.

        Take stock of the current situation in terms of that vision, then decide what specific areas can be improved upon.

        To achieve this improvement, you'll need to set goals and plan the steps toward reaching them. That will include budgeting time, money and people. The result is your business plan for the short term and long term.

        • Track results and revise the plan. With your plan in place, it's important to measure your progress toward completing your goals. Use both statistical methods that will show productivity changes as well as less-formal methods such as employee surveys.

        Be sure to track budget performance and numbers such as employee turnover, absenteeism and accident rates. After giving any new tactics a reasonable amount of time for success, don't be afraid to revise them if they're not working well.

        If you have a question or need advice on a certain topic, please e-mail us at or mail us at Dale Carnegie Training, 780 Third Ave., New York, NY 10017.


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