STAUNTON, Va. — Years ago, the only way leaders knew how to manage was through hierarchy, a top-down game focused on exercising power over people—more like a militaristic approach.
Not a bad idea, and it worked, but that method does not work today in order to build a strong leadership team and to retain, promote and hire/recruit individuals to a company.
Leadership today is more complex because of the knowledge-based world; leaders cannot hope to lead alone.
With the growing impact of technology and social media, the emphasis in leadership has shifted to leaders who are more in sync with global issues, recognize diversity as a strength and lead with empathy and compassion in order to combat the ever-evolving technology and constantly changing environment in order to stay competitive.
Also, communication with employees is easier today, and will be in the future, due to the advances of technology. So, what does leadership in laundry/linen services look like today, and what will it look like in the future?
A true statement is that leaders are made rather than born. A leader’s role is to produce more leaders. In my experience, I see that great leaders possess the following qualities in order to build a strong leadership team:
Vision—A shared vision will inspire others to follow your lead. The ability to stay focused while managing day-to-day activities.
Integrity—Conducting yourself honestly and ethically at all times.
Attitude—Maintaining a positive attitude and challenging yourself to develop this every day. How we react to a situation is 90% attitude, and 10% is the issue at hand.
Self-development—Learning opportunities are pursued by successful leaders because they are required to keep up with the pace, technology, new strategies and developments in their fields. They are always trying to improve their skills so they can lead and develop others.
Humility—The quality of being humble, yet strong.
Persistence—Staying the course in the face of opposition and adversity. Leaders work harder, longer and don’t quit in spite of the obstacles they face.
Curiosity—This is a strong desire to know or learn something, and leaders gather the facts rather than make assumptions.
Self-confidence—Believing in yourself and your abilities so that others are inspired to follow your lead.
Accountability—This is taking on two roles as a leader: personal accountability and accountability for someone else’s performance.
Interpersonal skills—A strong rapport with all types of people at different levels within an organization. A leader has to be a great communicator and recognize how others respond to them.
Commitment—Make each new day count for mastering skills and furthering goals.
Passion—Convincing others that the leader’s preferred topic is worthy of everyone else’s attention.
Decisive—Making decisions and being confident about the outcome.
Empathy—Understanding and feeling the pain of your followers is a major step in becoming an effective leader. Leaders sometimes overlook this quality because they follow a dictatorial style.
Delegation—Being able to delegate tasks to your subordinates and track their performance. Providing them with all the resources and support to achieve your goal—empowering your followers.
Analytical—Taking the time, energy and focus to access the thought, issue, vision or change.
Accessible/Approachable—Being approachable and having an open-door policy.
All the qualities mentioned apply to this industry, plus more empathy, compassion and attitude because the laundry industry is one of the toughest industries to work in due to the high demand and low supply of talented leaders who are attracted to the industry.
When people are promoted to a managerial role, it doesn’t automatically mean that person can lead. They may not be able to hire people that may be better than them, or able to connect with people and help them reach their goals.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion, which will look at front office and plant leadership, plus finding leaders of the future.