The CEO would sneak out of his office the same time every week. Nobody knew where he was going, but each manager had their own thoughts of what was happening.

As you can imagine, one of the managers was curious enough and they followed him in order to quell the rumors that were flying around the office every time the owner left the building. Each time he departed, the CEO drove to a nearby set of railroad tracks and just sat there until a train went by, then he would return to his office, as if nothing had happened.

Finally, the manager who had followed him gathered up enough courage to ask the owner why he left the office each week only to sit and watch a train move down the tracks. Embarrassed by the entire situation, the owner blurted out "Well, it is refreshing to actually see something else that is moving without me having to push it or pull it!"

As one of the leaders in your business, there is almost always an element of pushing or pulling something or someone, in order to complete the job or fill the order. Many people this day and age would also suggest that one of the difficulties of leadership is in knowing whether people are really following you or chasing you. Regardless of your feelings, there are most certainly many elements of leadership. There are many ways to enhance your leadership skills, here are a few of them.

Leaders really need to have or need to develop an ability to listen. They need to know when to speak and when to listen. Author John Maxwell has said "People connect when they understand, but they commit when they feel understood." If you want to be an effective leader, you need to be receptive to what others have to say. It is not uncommon for leaders to not only ask more questions as a result of having listened carefully, but they are usually more comfortable in knowing the right questions to ask. Good leaders are outstanding communicators. But, it is critical to remember that communication is a two way street, talking and listening. Listening is the key for understanding.

Most leaders offer encouragement to those they lead. By encouraging others they motivate them to perform at a higher level. Writer Claire Gillian says "Encouragement from any source is like a drop of rain upon a parched desert." Encouragement has a tendency to bring out the best in others. William James, one of the fathers of modern psychology, feels the need to be appreciated is one of our most important emotional needs. It is only human nature to want to do more for someone who encourages us. Study after study indicates that positive interactions, in the form of encouragement, yield more productive employees. Be an encourager.

Leaders need to be assertive, when called upon to do so. They must communicate the news, whether it is good or bad. Writer Stephen Covey suggests "Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us." Being assertive does not mean being unkind or arrogant, but it does require telling the truth in a direct and effective manner. It means that a leader must exert the power they have been given at the appropriate time. In order to lead you need to have the respect of your employees. Being direct, to the point, is a way to gain their respect.

Good leaders are decisive. As writer David Smith says, "Great leaders are exceptionally confident decision makers." In other words, wimps need not apply. Waffling is not an acceptable characteristic. Leaders need to be able to identify the problem at hand, determine the viable alternatives available for solving the problem, select the best alternative, and implement it. Being decisive includes a good leader needing to perform all of the above in a timely manner, as well.

At the end of the day, each one of us will develop our own leadership style. Without question, there will be times when some components of our style will be more useful than others and vice versa. Hopefully, when it comes to being impactful leaders, our staff will appreciate and respect our particular form of leadership and we won’t feel like the person who owns a cemetery, where there are a lot of folks under them but there isn’t anyone who is listening to a word they say.

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