published Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Smith: Leadership skills: Toolbox tips for team leaders

By Robin Smith

Many of today’s issues, whether in politics or business, revolve around leadership and the ability to inspire and affect change.

All one needs to do is turn the pages of today’s newspaper to see examples of effective leaders and the failures of ineffective ones.

Ted Rogers, city manager of Collegedale, Tenn., has catalogued items that he uses in his leadership role in a book called, “The Leaders Toolbox – Applied Concepts of Leadership.”

I believe a few of our politicians and other leaders might make the time to read this page-turner and make a few changes.

Rogers makes the point in the first pages that “leadership and management are not the same.” Leadership is the ability to assemble and influence individuals rather than the methodical processes and procedures, he says.

This leadership “must be lived” with “teaching by example” to create a culture for your employees and co-workers to thrive. A leader must look into the mirror to examine his or her temperament, discipline, commitment and heart.

So, what’s your team soaking up? The environment that you create will determine how your employees, your crew performs. Ted’s right: “Culture is to the organization what blood is to the human body.”

The compass in Roger’s book speaks to the man or woman who steers the direction of the company, the team, the political group, or church.

As great leaders drive their teams toward a common goal, they must understand the difference between time and timing and the importance of both.

Time, Rogers writes, is “your most precious commodity” — it’s irreplaceable. Effective leaders use time as a form of currency, respecting, investing, and spending it carefully. Too many are disrespectful of others time in habitual tardiness or misuse time through divisive, selfish pursuits. They assign no value to the use of others time and talents.

Timing is a matter of preparedness and vigilance.

A great leader will have his or her team equipped and active. We’ve all heard the quote, “Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity.”

Timing is not luck. Great leaders are prepared and watching.

Ted Rogers writes of accountability, an unpopular topic: “You’ve heard before that managers do things right and leaders do the right thing; very true. But it’s even more true that managers count and leaders are accountable.”

It is a matter of “shouldering the blame and sharing the credit” but also in understanding that leaders will be measured and set the benchmark for the organization or team. The focus is then the example of individual performance and individual accountability, from the very top of an organization to the most distant organizational circle on the chart of employees.

Each chapter in the “Leaders Toolbox” transitions from each “tool” with the admonition, “Lead on…”

Leadership at all levels is just this: Men and women invest in others who share the desire to become great leaders and successful, who in turn, build the essence of a wonderful organization or company. Yet, so many are only looking for jobs or a personal gain and avoid accountability, doing the right things, and leading by example, regardless of their title or position.

Let’s decide to “Lead on!”

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee’s Economic Council on Women.

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Facts said...

Printed and in my stack for staff meeting as required reading. Thanks for something that's useful to us in the subscriber world.

September 23, 2013 at 6:26 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

I'm retired and so happy to be out of the corporate world where "leadership" pep talks and reading material like this were a dime a dozen. At the time one is caught up in the corporate frenzy and madness of getting to the top you try to make yourself believe that that crap matters but once you're finally out of it you realize what a sad joke it all was.

There's no denying that there are good leaders and there are bad, but ya either got it or ya ain't. It's almost entirely a matter of charisma and an "X" factor of being likeable enough that those around you are happy to be a part of your team and they feel as if they are assisting you in accomplishing a goal and not just carrying out orders.

Upper management always likes to think that there's a way to motivate people and increase productivity by scheduling pep talks and providing "leadership" dos and don'ts, but 99.99% of that garbage is just that - garbage. The best thing a company can do for its employees is treat each and every one of them with respect and dignity, in both intangible (they are human beings, not cogs in the wheels of their corporate machinery) and tangible ways (they deserve to be paid a decent living wage). The more someone feels a part of a team or family in their work, no matter how small or big the business, the more apt they are to naturally rise to the level(s) of leadership.

I'm not sure what purpose an article like this serves here in the newspaper. I suppose it might have appeal to a limited number of people (like Facts, for example, who seems to be the quintessential corporate lackey), but to most who read it it's just so much junk. C'mon Mrs. Smith...of all the timely hot-button issues there are to write about, this vapid vanilla junk is all you could come up with?

September 23, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Smith "learned" at the feet of Zack Wamp. That explains her ability to blather but say nothing.

September 23, 2013 at 12:15 p.m.
Facts said...

Rickaroo, I tend to agree but do appreciate that at least it supercedes the drip and drabble of opinion. And there goes daytonsdarwin who either wanted a job with Zach Wamp or was fired and seems very intimidated by a successful woman.

September 23, 2013 at 4:59 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Not intimidated by successful women. Maybe Waterhouse needed a driver.

As to Wamp, I wasn't fired. Turned out he already had people to write good checks and forgetting his term limits pledge.

September 23, 2013 at 8:42 p.m.
Facts said...

You know, I think you have just tipped your hand through you bitterness as to your identity. Sad individual. Good luck with your personal issues and animosity.

September 24, 2013 at 6:29 a.m.
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