Can you answer that for yourself and on behalf of your team? No one taught us how to lead. Sure there are books and expert opinions. All very worthy, offering sound input. But how do you know if you are a great leader?
Here are some tips:
The best leaders acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers.
Stop Being a Control Freak – If you do not learn to trust your team you will micromanage – a most unsightly attribute. This kills innovation, fosters resentment and leads to turnover. Yes, your team won’t generate ideas, execute and lead their teams the way you do. Remember the goal is to foster creativity, healthy risk-taking, and employee engagement.
Take a Pulse – Do you even stop to ask what it means to be a successful leader? If you don’t then my guess is you may be missing out on essential feedback. We make assumptions in all our relationships, both personal and professional. We assume that because something makes sense or is important to us, it must be salient to others. Not so. Who says this is the case? My client decided on behalf of his senior team that when they had significant accomplishments, they were in essence the reward. He rarely praised their hard work and commented to me that most staff should be self-sustaining. This was his own value set and he personally did not require nor seek out praise from others. I spoke to his team and guess what they said? In one form or another they were starving for recognition. Most of us need to feel valued. Ask your staff if they are getting what they need from you.
Attract Talent – So if you think you are a guru, do you have people lining up at your door who want to work for you? If you don’t, you should. Like it or not people are selfish. What’s in it for me extends way past a pay cheque. Do you inspire and challenge your team? As a leader you are a star if you ignite others to do things they never thought possible.
Reverse Mentor – Of course you are an expert. That’s why you are in the driver’s seat. However, the best leaders acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers. My client working in the oil and gas sector was asked to lead a major change initiative. Her line of business had lost significant revenue. She felt tremendous pressure on behalf of herself and her team. I asked her to think about how she was going to bring her business back. She had many responses, some of which included stripping costs, realigning talent, increasing focus on business development. I then asked her to explain her communication plan, which she didn’t have. What was intriguing was she fostered this elaborate change initiative on her own and believed she had the best ideas. Great leaders are the first to say they don’t have all the answers and actively establish think tanks to seek input from all levels of the organization.
Remember That Being Human Has a Few Benefits – I have a number of clients who are focused on the prize. They show up at work with intense focus. I ask them if they ever engage in small talk or chat with their peers and colleagues. Here’s what one of my senior clients said: “Why should I really care about anybody’s weekend or what’s going on with their family? It takes time to inquire about how Brooke did in her school play or whether Matt aced his public speaking contest.” This leader was highly respected for his smarts. He did not create an inclusive culture and his firm lost their edge. Shame, as they had competitive products but he led his team in a detached and cerebral manner. The end result was employees just did their jobs.
So, back to you. You have to care as much about how you lead as you do about your business. Your employees are your true competitive advantage. You must embrace them to maximize your ROI.
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