In Leadership

The right job inspires you. Gives you hope. And might even cause a spontaneous dance-break with your co-workers.

Admit it. There are days, maybe more for those of you who are blessed to love what you do, where you are energized and hopeful.

Not only about your career but also excited about what the future has in store. Where you just want to run down the hallway, jump in the air, click your heels together and sing. I’ve been having many of these days recently, and I’m reminded that we all need to block out time on our calendars at least once a month and email or call those people who have inspired us in the past. Better yet, request a “reboot” meeting and set up time for in-person, real face-time with a real human being.

Last week I had one such reboot meeting. Coffee and pastries on a warm summer morning with two of my favorite “work” people: a former boss and a former coworker, each of whom I now consider dear friends.

My former boss is as optimistic as ever. His wife joined us at breakfast on their patio and we reminisced about how hard we worked for the several years he owned the business, and also how much we grew together. Good times, bad times. Long hours and many weekends, to be sure. But we were always learning and more importantly, making a difference in our customers’ lives and also each others’ lives. Company dinners and leadership retreats were celebrations we remembered with smiles. (We didn’t discuss the untimely deaths of close family members and cherished co-workers over the years, though I’ll never forget my boss and coworkers sitting with me as my husband was in ICU, saying prayers and just being there for me, on Thanksgiving Day no less.)

If the Urban Dictionary ever needs a photo to place next to the term “work family” we’ll send in a picture that shows our entire team back in the heyday, confident in knowing that we accomplished more together as a united front than any single one of us could have done on our own.

Teamwork was not just a buzzword tossed around at meetings. We lived and breathed teamwork on a daily basis, we had each other’s backs all the time, and the company thrived as a result.

As much as my very humble former boss didn’t want to accept our thanks and praises for his outstanding leadership, there was no denying that he built an organization that encouraged each person to live up to his or her full potential. There are six key things he did as a Soulful Leader that positively impacted the company and made us successful as an organization, as well as fostered our individual professional success:

A Soulful Leader:

1) Allows employees to make mistakes. Many workplaces have an atmosphere of fear. A surefire way to suck any creativity out of the organization.

2) Acknowledges the team’s effort when and where it matters: With the board of directors; with the management team; with an email summarizing the project and what was accomplished – and cc’s the HR department; with vendors and significant others at business dinners and company events

3) Personally thanks employees for a job well done, either in person, on the phone or with a handwritten card.

4) Is passionate – and persistent – about strategy, and makes sure every employee understands the company’s short and long-term goals. Transparency is a must, too. A Soulful Leader isn’t afraid to share the truth about financials, competitive challenges or problems in the organization.

5) Teaches others how to be effective communicators. To listen and learn as well as to mentor.

6) Creates a culture of “giving back” to the company and the community, and practices what he or she preaches by setting positive examples even when people aren’t looking.

Soulful Leaders are rare. If you’re lucky enough to work for a leader who possesses the above character traits, stay put and count your blessings that you have a boss who cares. If you don’t have a Soulful Leader at your company, go to HR and ask if there are any leadership training programs planned for the management team. If you have a good relationship with one of the executives, go straight to the top, share this list with the CEO, the COO or another member in the C-suite and ask if you can do anything to help take the leadership – and your company culture – in a new, positive direction.

And remember, no matter your title or position in the company, YOU can be a Soulful example to others. Leaders aren’t defined by a corner office, or a parking space. Be the leader who inspires others, starting today, and spread some much-needed joy in your workplace.

Your actions and attitude just might inspire someone else to run down the hallway, jump in the air and click her heels together.

Leaders aren’t defined by a corner office, or a parking space.

Follow Diane Ferraro on LinkedIn and Twitter. When you’re ready to provide The Soulful Experience for your customers and employees, email Diane to set up a call for a free marketing and store experience consultation.

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