People make the mistake of thinking that leadership only involves the big things. Although that can be true, most leadership involves the little things that make people enjoy their work feel inspired to do it as well as feel supported.
I thought I would share a few things that you might try doing that will help you be a more effective leader.
1, Celebrate successes. They don’t have to be big and dramatic things. They can be simply successes that the person may feel. I clean my desk is a success for the person who, like me, doesn’t do it very often, is a success. I met with a new client. I didn’t criticize a coworker today (when that is often a daily occurrence) is a success. I worked through lunch may or may not be an example of a success. Ask your people to drop you a note at the end of their day with one success that they had and then reply with an “atta girl,” an “atta boy,” a thumbs-up, a GIF, something that acknowledges them. Most of you spend time pointing out the things that they do wrong. Let them know you appreciate their victories.
- Create positive environments. Many things create positive environments. Lighting. Access to useful tools that help performance. Asking your people to be encouraging and helpful rather than critical. Making sure your people get out daily for at least a few minutes rather than being chained to their desks or their work. Someone I know suggested that every 90 minutes, I take a one minute break where I breathe in for a three count and breathe out for a six-count. I find it relaxing and helps me with my focus. It may not work for you but it works for me. Encourage your people to find something that works for them and supports them in being their best.
- Ask your people, “Did you do your best today to . . . “ Coach Marshall Goldsmith suggests a few simple questions that he asks himself at the end of each day.
Did I do my best to…:
- Set clear goals?
- Make progress toward goal achievement?
- Be happy?
- Find meaning?
- Build positive relationships?
- Be fully engaged?
He doesn’t expect perfection on a 1 to 10 scale. It does offer a way that person can notice their progress and when their slipping. This is for them, not for you.
- Ask for help. This is a tough one for many people. You have been raised to believe that you have to have all the answers. You know you don’t but that’s how you act. After all, as a manager, your staff came to you with a question and you supplied an answer that worked for them. Leadership is different. Part of your job is training your successor and s/he needs support thinking through problems . . . And so do you. Involve your captains with some of the more difficult decisions. Let them debate, not argue about possibilities. Thank them, send them on their way, review their suggestions and make a decision. Explain why you made one choice versus another so that they can learn from you (including how to present to you better).
- Leadership starts with courage. Coach Lance Secretan offers a model for leadership that he calls “The Castle Principles.™” Castle is an acronym for Courage, Authenticity, Service, Truthfulness, Love, and Effectiveness. You’ll notice that it starts with courage. That can be the courage to have difficult conversations but, as a leader, you need to have them. It takes courage to open up to your people. It takes courage to be authentic. It takes courage to serve others, be truthful when a lie might be easier, love your people when they have let you down and, effectively doing all of these things. Again, courage doesn’t need to be about big things. There are many small things the required courage, too.
This is by no means all-inclusive. It is a starting place. Use your imagination and creativity to expand upon it.
You may get some pushback. So what? If you’re trying to apply this, you’re trying to be a better leader. Pushback reflects negative qualities I won’t define. You don’t have to do all of these (although if you do, you will have a huge impact).
Just start somewhere.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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