This month’s Business Builder Academy meeting featured two outstanding seminars on effective leadership. The presenters were Susan L. Farrell, MBA and Lt. Cmdr. Chip Lutz USN (ret.).
This column recaps Susan’s presentation. I will discuss Chip’s seminar in my next column. Susan taps into her 25+ years of management and training experience to help women in management roles develop leadership, managerial, and interpersonal skills.
Author of “Don’t Act Like Prey!: A Guide To Personal Leadership for Women,” Susan stressed that if we’re going to lead, we must be assertive.
To set the stage, she offered the 3 R’s needed to manage a business properly.
Relationships: She reviewed personal and professional relationships and how they affect how we lead.
Rights: In addition to the common ones found in the US Constitution, Susan reminds us that we managers/business owners have the right to be treated with respect and dignity. Respect: We must understand that others we interact with–our customers and vendors–have rights, as well. By honoring those rights, we show those individuals respect.
Delving deeper into this concept of rights, Susan listed those rights we enjoy as business owners:
A. Hire and fire. But employees deserve to know what your expectations are.
B. Set prices. Be assertive. Passive people (more on that behavior below) tend not to charge enough. Determine what the market will tolerate and use that as a benchmark.
C. Run your business as you see fit. Within legal and ethical parameters, of course. Set your goals and priorities.
D. Make lots of money. To be successful, you must be comfortable earning lots of money. She offered a powerful quote from one of her college professors: “Businesses are in business to make money. If it [the business] is not making money, it is a hobby.” You have a right to set your prices and salaries; that is, to make the important decisions affecting your firm. “If you don’t stand up for your rights,” Susan says, “no one else will.”
Susan explained the difference between Passive, Aggressive and Assertive behavior.
In a passive state, we forgo our rights and, in turn the rights of others. In a passive state, managers fail to speak up when problems occur in the business. Employees’ rights are harmed because they’re not informed of the issues and given a chance to correct. It’s OK to let the “little stuff” slide, Susan says, but a problem that’s really bothering you must be addressed. Failure to do so only causes it to get worse.
Managers and owners who present aggressive behavior show disrespect by yelling and/or acting in a condescending and patronizing manner. Such behavior damages relationships with employees, customers and others. Susan reminds us that aggressive behavior can be caused by internal or external forces. If internal, such as something that is bothering us, we have to correct that. We can’t take it out on others.
The preferred behavior style, Susan says, is Assertive. This is a balanced approach, and involves treating ourselves and everyone else with respect. During negotiations you take a somewhat aggressive stance, but keep within limits. You get what you deserve but not at the expense of the other person’s rights and respect.
For related reading, see “5 traits of a good leader” and “Develop leadership skills for efficient, motivated staff.”
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