Being a leader can be both a wonderful and difficult thing. You have the power to change things, but you don’t have the power to change people. You can change how a government is run, how a company manages its funds, and how people manage their debts; but you can’t make lazy people work harder, nor can you turn dull people into geniuses. What you can do, however, is encourage people to do better, and this is a task you can accomplish only if you are a strict leader.
Never mind the myths of soft bosses or kind-hearted leaders who stoop down to save an ant from being trampled. In this highly competitive world, people need to be managed firmly; they need to be told what to do. Being strict, however, doesn’t mean that you should be a dictator and lord it over your minions. Being strict means that you won’t tolerate haphazard techniques or half-baked output; being strict means that you will command responsibility, and make sure that all your followers work responsibly and successfully.
Commanding responsibility means that you will take all the blame if anything goes wrong, and share the success with your followers if things go right. This should be enough to make you strict, so start off by being strict on yourself. Consistency is the key to good leadership: if you show your followers that you are firm at the outset, they won’t be surprised if you suddenly become strict in the middle of work.
Second, don’t take strictness to mean stiffness. All projects are open to suggestions, and being the leader doesn’t give you the right to monopolize ideas. Don’t be afraid to take suggestions from your employees, and be approachable. If you have time, have weekly hour-long brainstorming sessions with your employees or followers, but have a moderator facilitate the exchange of ideas. The tendency of such brainstorming sessions is to veer into joking and ridiculousness, so you need a good referee to watch over your team’s progress.
Third, set a good example. If you preach high quality work, make sure that your own work is of high quality. If you preach working long hours to finish a project, work long hours as well. If your employees see that you are working as hard as they are, then they can be inspired to work and they will naturally look up to you as their leader.
Fourth, and last, acknowledge mistakes. A good leader is human, so admit your mistakes, but move on. True success happens when you rise again from failure.