Great leadership takes constant focus and work - On yourself, your mindset, your actions and even how you plan your conversations. Continue to read and bring the best side of you out to LEAD yourself and others. People need better leaders, so let's commit to our improvement starting now.
1) Self-evaluate, constantly.
Great leaders make mistakes, feel ashamed, are afraid. It’s part of being human. Your success though, depends on your ability to break for a moment, reflect on your thoughts, emotions and actions and re-calibrate them to be the best quality possible.
My recommendation is that you do this daily. Set your commitments in the morning on how you want to show up for yourself, the team, your family and at the end of the day, think of what you did well and what needs extra focus from you the next day.
Remember: Being a great leader is about staying present. If you are all over the place in your head, then you won’t have enough capacity to focus on staying a step ahead of what you say and what you do.
2) Connect to people’s message when it’s your time to listen.
We keep talking about how it is important that we become better at listening. This is something that as humans we struggle with, because there is a lot of crap going on in our heads that makes it difficult for us to be there for others. We have enough with what’s happening within our agendas.
Yes - I get it! It is understandable, but we are talking here about how to be Great Leaders consistently, and that means being there for others - whether they report to you or not. This is a skill that you must practice non-stop, because as humans, we want to be seen, heard, noticed. And your role, as a great leader, is to do that for others.
If you want people to listen to you and earn a chance to have influence over their actions and results, then you must connect to what they are saying (or trying to say) and feeling first, validate them, and ask questions to get a wider understanding of their perspectives.
Become a master at this - For you to be a great leader consistently, this is a big one for you: Connect to their message first, then earn your window of influence.
3) Plan your Success.
Let’s start by saying that if you think that you can’t control your results, then you are probably not delivering great results right now.
Great leaders plan their success - And this applies to everything: from sales results, to tough conversations to meeting presentations, even how you ask for a raise!
Everything can be planned. Life will always throw surprises at you, but if you REALLY work on a platinum type plan, you could even guess 80% of the surprises life might present itself with - And you could plan for ways to get over those obstacles too.
What is it that you ultimately like to accomplish? Ask yourself that question, define the “goal” walk yourself backwards from it, cut the steps into small actions that you can take starting now and go do that.
No more showing up to your days without a plan to lead them effectively and towards your ultimate goal.
4) Do you what you said you were going to do.
The fact that most people make weak promises and that we live in a society where people are more about the “talk” and less about the “action”, doesn’t help. I agree. I just read an article that described how studies show that one bad/dishonest/negative employee can easily contaminate a whole environment and turn potential great employees into really bad ones.
Now - Just like we tell kids: “The fact that everyone is doing it, something mean that it’s okay for you to do it”. Being a great leader consistently means that you deliver on your commitments, small or big ones and you communicate throughout the process.
What do I mean by that? That it is important that you show that whatever you committed to, it’s top of mind.
If one of your team members (Amy) is requesting a raise and she may merit that raise, your next steps most likely involve meeting with the executive team and HR. Before you finish the meeting, you are probably going to say something around: “Hey Amy - Thank you for bringing this up. I’m going to discuss this with the executive team and HR. I’ll keep you updated.
Here is what’s going to happen: Amy is going to be expecting to hear from you every single day after that. She’ll be distracted from her work until she hears from you. If she doesn’t hear from you soon enough, she is going to start getting frustrated and angry at work and probably build some resentment, so to avoid ALL THAT MESS, do this instead:
Tell her: “I’m going to try to meet with the team within add time frame”.
Then say: “Once I have a set date to meet, I will let you know” - Note: Let her know.
After you meet with the team, whether you have a positive, negative or NO answer, let her know that the meeting happened.
Schedule time to circle back with Amy and give her the news.
Plan the conversation before (remember, great leaders plan their success)
If you are over-capacity and think that it is impossible to keep up with every promise or commitment you made, then you have to break, self-evaluate, be present to pay full attention, plan better and get back to this point: Do what you said you were going to do.
Get it? Follow every step, from the top.
Before we leave this rule - If you can’t meet with commitment, you forget, etc - Apologize and come up with a plan to fix as soon as possible.
5) Don’t give an answer if you don’t really know.
You can be a great leader and not know everything - In fact, great leaders are the ones that go around with a clear mind and an open heart, accepting that there is still a lot for them to learn.
I get it, sometimes when people need answers, they turn to their leader for them. You may have some of the answers or not. If you don’t, you can either:
A) Ask for time. “Hey Pete, that’s a good observation. I don’t have the answer at this moment, but let’s meet again tomorrow, so I can get more clarity on this.”
Note: This is a good one to use if the question comes from a peer or an executive member.
B) Challenge your people to come up with an answer or a solution. This is a great approach to help people grow, so take every chance you get to apply. it Your people will hate it at first, but eventually, they’ll appreciate it (that’s the hope at least!).
Note: Don’t try this on your boss - It might not go so well.
Being a great leader consistently means that you self-evaluate, you stay present so you can pay attention to yourself and others, that you platinum plan your success, that you meet your commitments and that you understand that having every answer is not the answer.
This is work you focus on every single day. Not only when you want a raise or a promotion or you get a brand new team. Being a great leader must be in your priority list. We need better leadership everywhere, so let’s start a trend.
Reset yourself today, refresh your focus and get on with this.