Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Learn Good Leadership

If you want to run any business, it's imperative you learn the basics of becoming a great leader-and follow them.

Leadership sets the tone and approach for the company. People will watch the way you do things, and mimic that behavior. Make sure you are behaving in the way you want copied.

Following are insights from Robert P. Hewes, Ph.D., Senior Partner, Camden Consulting Group, which teaches these techniques to organizational leaders. He believes leaders must possess the following traits to thrive. They must be:

1. Trusting that employees will take chances, and may even fail 
a. It is very important that leaders create an environment where employees are encouraged to take chances and are safe to fail. This is often tricky to do. Often times we hear, "Of course, we encourage people to take risks, but we don't get enough of it." Why? It can be due to the consequences of what happens when something doesn't work. If it is called out in a bad way, people will shy away from risk taking. Now, you don't want people taking risks willy-nilly. Rather, it should be calculated risks in consciously chosen areas. The leader needs to help define the boundaries and act in the right way when a "failure" happens. This takes vigilance over time. 

2. Strong and approachable communicators 
a. Communication is one of the fundamental leadership capabilities. Why? So much is done through communication; it is how initiatives are launched, results reported, and a plethora of things in between. Remember, communication is a two way street and listening is as important as "telling".  Great leaders listen incredibly well and ask great questions. 

3. Collaborators 
a. Collaboration is one of "those" skills that 'take charge' leader-type personalities can look down upon.  However, many great ideas and decisions come about because great minds worked together on a problem. That is collaboration. To push on it - and ask why? Simply put, no one has all the answers especially to the most difficult challenges. A great leader will encourage collaboration at the right moments. 

4. Self-aware 
a. It is critical for leaders to be self-aware. It is vital to know your style, where it works best, and where to adjust your approach. If you don't know your weaknesses, how can you improve them? 

5. Problem solvers 
a. Many leaders (maybe most) are problem solvers at heart. Given the multiple issues and constant juggling nature and complexity of 'the job', problem solving is key and something a leader pushes for. 

6. Strategic thinkers 
a. Seeing the bigger picture and looking forward is critical to succeeding as a leader; without it, one's head is down too much. A leader should be strategically focused at least 15% of the time. One must take a hard look at where you actually spend your time, and where you should.  Make an adjustment to include more strategic activities. 

7. Decisive decision makers 
a. Precise decision-making is an essential trait of leaders. Leaders need to make both quality and timely decisions. They also need to know what and why they are making this decision, how to explain the decision to their staff or justify it to others boss. 

8. Ahead of industry trends and changes 
a. Today the pace of change, need for faster decision making, and consumer demand is intense. Today's leaders need to be ahead of and deliver marketplace demands while also maintaining other critical functions. That is not easy to balance, but it is something leaders need to tackle head-on. 

9. Knowledgeable about their customers-base 
a. Another critical factor that successful leaders possess is to know the customer whether it is internal or external. Listening and understanding what an internal or external customer actually needs is the trick. Listening and understanding customers should be a well-honed capability that a leader exhibits and gets his or her organization to exhibit. 

Stop the Office Bully

DR.JOB Tip of the Week: