It's not easy to be a good leader; this may just be the reason why there so few good leaders. Here is the good news: learning the skills to be a great leader are in all of us, they just need to be brought out. By no means is this an easy undertaking; it's also not a one-time task, unlike learning to ride a bicycle or learning how to read. This is an ongoing task. If you are not willing to invest the time, you may as well just stop reading right now until you are ready for the commitment. Unless you serious, don't even bother, it would be a waste your time and resources.
Without a vision, a set of goals if you will, you won't be able to lead. How can you lead a group of people without knowing where you want to lead them to? If you don't have a set of goals written down covering the next few years it should be the first thing on your list. Where do you want to be next month, next quarter, or next year? No goal is too big, every company started out small.
Many companies have extensive benefits programs composed of a mixture of standard benefits such as insurance as well as incentives such as stock options - a great motivation for your employees to work harder. It doesn't matter how you twist it, people need to be rewarded for a good performance or they will be unhappy. What is a reward? It is recognition of an achievement. There is nothing greater then a pat on the back for a job well done; an honest "Thank you!"
Some corporations have achieved the ultimate goal: corporate pride amongst employees. If an employee is proud to work for you and with you, that person will due anything for the company; anything reasonable. This pride is an incredible team-building instrument. They will go home and tell their family and friends what a great company it is.
Andrew Carnegie once said, "When you work with people it is a lot like mining for gold, you literally move tons of dirt to find a single ounce of gold. However, you do not look for the dirt - you look for the gold!" Good advice, but remember that you won't find any gold in a pit of mud, so stop looking. Don't waste resources on people who drag others down. Everybody has a bad day, bad week, bad month, but there is a difference between somebody who is going through a rough period in their life opposed to a person who just doesn't have the drive. Keep the hard-working and try to replace the bad seeds with good ones.
Do whatever it takes to improve your leadership skills; be resourceful. It is all about encouraging those around you, so this is where you can be creative. A coupon for a massage, a book, or just a hand written thank you card; experiment and find out what works best. You need to be careful however so it doesn't get taken for granted. Don't make it something periodical, it needs to have the surprise factor. Again, don't forget to nurture your leadership skills. Sometimes it is easy to overlook or forget the need of others to be led. Remember that leadership is not merely a business-specific subject matter. It really applies to everything, from raising children and supporting your spouse all the way to your job.
As a leader you will need to know how important communication is. In a lot of companies communication only flows one way, and even this doesn't work as good as it could sometimes. Good communication will do three main things for you. Firstly, when you accept input your employees feel part of the team. Secondly, you can use the knowledge they have to make better decisions. Thirdly, when you give instructions, think as a leader and sometimes you can lead people to the answer. Even though you knew the answer already, it will make the other person feel good.
Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Lawrence J. Ellison, Josef Ackermann, and Charles Prince; do these names ring a bell? Do some research, see who they are and find out more about others in similar positions. Watch the big guys. No matter if they have first-class leadership skills or not an ounce of it, you can learn from their mistakes and study their accomplishments.
Leadership isn't cheap? That's right, it's not, you've got to give to get. There is not one way to practice good leadership, it is something one grows into. Showing others your gratitude and appreciation will not only make them feel better, it will also make you feel better. As a CEO or somebody in a leadership roll it really doesn't matter if you are a "nice" guy, at the end of the day the only thing that counts is that the company and that its team is taken care of. They need to be happy; actually it's a fact that happy people are more productive and efficient. Respect others, think ahead, don't forget to that you are a leader, and you're on the right path.
Let's finish off with a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower: "You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership."