In the leadership positions I have held, I encourage those under me to communicate with me if there is a problem or if they have an idea that would be beneficial to the project. I do this intentionally - a change - being as my take-command personality has unintentionally hurt people in the past.
It's good to be a leader who has a plan, but what you don't want is to be a power-hungry egotistical megalomanic who has their arms around everything, thinking their way is the best. They are unapproachable.
This often manifests itself in the leader keeping important information from his or her constituents until the last possible moment. Why? Really because it's that the leader wants the glory and doesn't want to share it with their team. Company award meetings are terrible because the higher-level managers often get recognition awards and their team members do not.
When I have accepted such awards, I learned to say, "I accept this award on behalf of my team, who have put in many long hours and contributed many great ideas. Without them, this would not be possible." Then, I would plan a party back in our office area to celebrate the team's excellent job.
For those leaders who fear familiarity with their employees and "too much buddy-buddy crap", I just want to encourage you, from experience, that sometimes employees have a BETTER idea than you do and that you might be missing out on achieving something even greater. Also, if you constantly (genuinely!) give credit to your employees and make them look good, they will gladly make you look good in return.
Added bonus -- if everyone on the team is appreciated, you reduce the instances of people trying to obnoxiously brown-nose you. Kinda refreshing, actually.
You are living what I consider to be a dream job Chuck. Training and teaching is a huge passion of mine. Even working on a degree in Career and Technical Education (Teaching vocations to others) just to get more involved in it.
I totally agree with you Jason, it's the best job I've had to date, I used to change jobs/locations every three years or so, been doing this one for over 10 years and no signs of boredom or burnout.
Good luck with that degree, sounds like your heading in a great direction.
I used to do more in the vocational area myself, training equipment operators in the safe and correct use of heavy equipment (mobile cranes, boom trucks, loaders, graders ect. I found you never really know something until you try to teach it to someone else.
Think about what it would take to get your crew to work for you for no pay. What else do you have to offer them? People do what they're rewarded for but that isn't always financial in nature. Is it experience, recognition, sense of belonging? Many leaders miss that.
I am a teacher by education. I am substituting right now while I'm trying to get through the tough job market. But last spring during my ten week student teaching requirement, I stayed up through all hours of the night to make sure I was ready to do my absolute best for the teenagers I was teaching. My host-teacher was always on top of everything he did, so I worked as hard as I could to be the same way when it was my turn. My goal is to carry that same dedication to my profession, school, and students throughout my teaching career.
Another way I lead others is in the welcome ministry at my church. I am one of the head ushers every Sunday. I am a member of a fairly large church, so this is a challenge. I have discovered that organization is one area where I am lacking, so I'm working to improve myself in this way.
Though not officially a boss, I was a back-up crew leader on shift at my plant. I've also started a small side business freelance writing which makes me a leader of one (myself). A few years ago, I wrote and published a piece on that very question. http://www.liftedmagazine.com/index-2.asp?ID=236
"So far it's had a high success rate with psychology students who understand the terminology well but a wider survey is good to do.The point is to try and prove what mechanisms are involved in regulating emotion."