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The Sykes Group
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Virginia Beach, VA 23456
Tel: 757-427-7032
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Leadership Techniques:  Seven Leadership Secrets to Being the Outstanding Leader Everyone Wants to Follow

By Ed Sykes


In this changing, challenging, and competitive workplace we can’t overestimate the importance of good management.  Good managers will consistently motivate you to perform at higher levels of productivity.   Bad managers will drive you crazy and eventually out of the organization.  Managers with poor skills will frequently produce the following results:


  1. Decreased productivity

  2. Increased turnover

  3. Increased absences

  4. Increased human resources mediation situations

  5. Increased customer service complaints


The following are seven secrets to being the “perfect” leader everyone want to work for:


  1.   Leadership means Creating a Vision

The best leaders not only assign tasks or monitor performance.  They plan for the future and motivate others to see the same vision so they can all thrive to accomplish that vision.


Instead of dwelling on limited problems, the perfect leader looks at the big picture.  They live the organization’s mission and implement, motivate, and dedicate all their efforts to accomplishing the mission.


During hundreds of team building and leadership workshops, I have asked the following simple question:


What is your organization’s mission statement?


If there are forty participants in the workshop, thirty-seven will look down at their desk, one participant will make a feeble attempt at reciting what he/she “thinks” is the mission statement, one participant will make a pretty good attempt and recite the first one or two sentences of the mission statement, and finally one student will volunteer to run to the office (or car) to grab a copy of the statement to bring back to the workshop.  Out of the thousands of workshop participants I have asked this question, only three knew their mission statement word for word.  The amazing part of this is that many of these workshop participants have been with their organization 5-10-20+ years and, they still didn’t know their mission statement.  So my question is this:


How do you lead your employees to accomplish your organization’s mission if you (as a manager) don’t know what the mission is?


The perfect leaders live, eat, sleep, and shower with their mission statement.  They know exactly what the mission is and understand its importance to the team they lead and to the organization.  Most importantly, they communicate the mission statement to their employees at meetings, coachings, feedback sessions, and even corrective actions.  Their actions are related to accomplishing the goals of the mission statement and can communicate the vision of the organization.


Action Step – Take the mission statement out of the dark corner in the office.  Print the mission statement and its vision on the top of your meeting agenda and recite it at the beginning of the meeting.  Then talk about how the employees are helping to realize the goals, values, and vision of the mission.


  1.   Leadership means understanding employees needs

As the old saying goes, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”  However, the perfect leader realizes that to be effective, they must cater to the needs of most of the team.  Good leaders realize that the work environment is not a popularity contest or, as I say, “Leadership is not Pleasership.”  The perfect leader treats all employees with respect and are consistent in their actions and words.


At the same time, they recognize the unique needs of their employees and use that knowledge for motivation to achieve a common goal.


  1.   Leadership means communicating concisely and clearly

Poor communication skills are probably the Number #1 reason managers fail.  If they can’t talk to and connect with their employees, they are not serving the needs of the staff.


What is good communication?  The following are some examples:


Communicate job expectation and standards

§         Give ongoing feedback to employees.

§         Seek and acknowledge feedback from employees on decisions that effect them (and take the time to listen to them).

§         Communicate the mission (see Secret #1) on an ongoing basis.

§         Communicate “bad news” in a honest and timely manner.

§         Communicate using language that shows a positive expectation.

§         Communicate by a combination of methods: person-to-person, e-mail, phone, and meetings.


  1.   Leadership means finding Common Ground

Some managers don’t understand they are in the people business and lack the patience to work and develop their team members.  I even had supervisor during a coaching and mentoring workshop make the following statement to me at break:


“If I knew I had to communicate with my team I would have never taken the job.”


What did this person think?  True leaders understand that their employees’ success is their success.  They comprehend during this journey that some employees will need assistance, coachings, motivation, feedback, and discipline.  Good leaders will work to find common ground with each staff member so that everyone wins.  Perfect leaders will understand that some employees will need consistent managing, and others will need less managing; some employees need refocusing, while others will be very focused, etc.  Perfect leaders recognize the need to find common ground with each person.


  1.   Leadership means taking others to a new level

Perfect managers are concerned with their staff’s professional advancement and do everything possible to help staff members develop their capabilities.  These leaders “see the employees for what they can become, not what they are now.”  The leaders’ actions might range from improving specific aspects of job performance, to delegating special assignments, to developing an action plan for promotions.  Perfect leaders must have the ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of employees and use that to coach for continuous improvement.


Ideally the basis for improvement combines the best interest of the organization and the employee.  Many times I am brought into organizations to assist them with this need:


“I have managers retiring, and we have no one to replace them.”


These organizations have created a “talent black hole,” because they didn’t implement a plan to “help others improve” and be ready to step up to when needed.  Remember, you can always replace a chair, a desk, a computer.  But you can’t always replace a talented employee if you don’t have a plan in place to develop others to take their place when the time comes.


  1.   Leadership means believing in your staff

Recently, I was presenting the concerns of an employee workshop to management of an organization at their staff meeting.  One manager looked at the report and questioned me as to whether the employees really mentioned the items in the report.  I assured the manager the employees did.  To that the manager answered in the meeting, “This must mean we have smart employees.”  Little did this manager realize that he had a negative attitude toward his employees.  Through his subconscious mind, he is showing his employees, through words and actions, that he doesn’t believe in his staff.


Perfect leaders believe in the best qualities of their employees.  They believe their employees are smart enough to handle tasks and find solutions to challenges if given the correct guidance and opportunity.


This comes with earned trust from past performances and the investment by the leaders to ongoing shared coachings and feedback to give the employees the experience and skills to succeed in the future.


  1.   Leadership means integrity is best

It is important that employees feel they can trust the managers’ words and actions.  This means honesty, fairness, and consistency when interacting with employees.  If employees share in private a confidential sensitive subject with their mangers in the morning, this must not be known throughout the organization that afternoon.  Or if the managers promise to give employees an answer by the end of the day and never get back to the employees, the managers’ integrity is destroyed.


The best leaders realize their word is their bond and that actions speak louder than words.  Perfect leaders work at being honest, open, and reliable everyday.


Take the time starting today to apply these seven leadership skills; and you, too, can be a “perfect” leader.



Suggested leadership reading:


Seven Secrets to Being the Leader Everyone Wants to Follow

Five Secrets to Becoming the Perfect Employee That Everyone Wants – Part One

 Have You Appreciated Someone Today?

Nine Ways Johnny Carson Can Help You Run Outstanding Meetings

You Mean I Need to Promote Myself to Get a Promotion? 5 Promotion Secrets to Get the Job You Want!

Five Secrets to Gaining Credibility with Your Team for Outstanding Results

How Appetizing Is Your Feedback? (5 Steps to Giving Effective Feedback)

Ten Techniques for Motivating Others Through Chaos

10 Action Steps to Motivate Yourself to Great Accomplishments

Eight Ways to Motivate Part-Time Employees

Delegate to Accelerate Success (How to Prepare Yourself and Others for Success)

Appreciate to Motivate (The Key to Successful Team Building)

The Greatest Gift of All - The Gift of Empowerment

Leadership Secrets for Challenging Times

Words to Live By – Six Ways to Breathe Life into Your Day

Verbal Faux Pas – The Words You Use Can Empower or Confuse

Bite Your Tongue! 10 Ways to Be an Effective Listener

Five Secrets to “Thinking on Your Feet”

Ten Quick Tips for Outstanding Presentations

Dr. Seuss's "The Cat in the Hat" Will Help You Get Your Point Across! (Yes you can, here's the plan!)

How to Set Boundaries and Say No 




Want to learn how to be a better leader and achieve more? Our Team Building, Leadership, Change Management, or Assertive Communication leadership management training workshops can help you motivate team members to achieve more.  


Also read our leadership skills articles on motivation skills, leadership, presentation skills, customer service, etc.


Call us at 757-427-7032 or e-mail us at for additional leadership skills information.

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