“Leaders become great not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” — John Maxwell, bestselling author/speaker/leadership coach.
Often, I’m asked to share my secret for success. It is a humbling question — and one with many answers — but the most compelling and true response always circles back to the great people who work for and with me. I lead a team of well over 200, and to many of you, that may be a staggering number. To others, it might be a small number. No matter how big of a team you lead, however, there are some key points you must apply to be able to do so successfully.
My lessons in leadership draw from the classes and books I’ve read on the topic over the years, as well as profound personal experiences. These are just a few, but I hope you find them useful.
Recognize the power of words
I was in sixth grade, got into some trouble at school, a parent-teacher conference was scheduled, and I’ll never forget what my guidance counselor said: “Nicky, you’re a leader, not a follower.” I wasn’t sure if he was just trying to get me to stop hanging with — and leading — the wrong crowd or if he really saw something in me, but that line always stuck with me, and I hung on to it my entire life. Now, when I look back, I recognize what my counselor was really telling me: a person in power empowers followers with their words.
That’s why I make sure to use my words in a positive way to empower my employees, and when I introduce someone to someone else, I use the power of my words to edify them. There is no stronger way to build up someone than to personally praise them when given the chance. Coming from the leader, those words carry powerful and inspiring meaning.
Standards apply to everyone — including you
Whether you like it or not, as a leader, you’re always in the spotlight. All eyes are on you at all moments, even if you’re tired, beat up or going through a personal crisis. People are watching to see what behaviors are accepted, and they’re watching to see what pace you set. They watch how you dress, what words you say and even how punctual you are. Therefore, you cannot hold your employees to strict standards and rules if you do not attune to them, as well.
Share the spotlight
There will be many ups and downs in your business. Great leaders know when to take the light off them and shine it on their team members in those high moments, just as they know to take the light and shine it on themselves in low moments. After all, we are trying to position everyone on our team to win — and a great leader does just that. They don’t just lead great teams; they build them. That’s what we will talk about in upcoming next installments.
NICK BOGACZ is the founder and president of Caliente Pizza & Draft House in Pittsburgh. Instagram: @caliente_pizza