5 Steps To A Better Leader
It is probably not far-fetched to assume you would like to either be a better leader or work for one. In today’s post, I offer five simple steps to better influence, which in turn is better leadership.
When I started out in “leadership” positions, I thought it was all about me. My mistaken thought process was I had clearly shown mastery over the subject matter and had been rewarded for my performance. I can still remember the first meeting I had with my “followers”.
During the first meeting, I sat down with my team one-on-one to discuss what their needs were and how I could help their dreams come true. Looking back, I made several mistakes, including doing all of the talking. This is a list of five steps that I believe will lead to better influence, and through influence, leadership.
Show You Care
When you are newly promoted to a position, the only thing most people focus on is showing everyone that they have mastered the content and position. Sadly, we immediately begin losing influence by failing to acknowledge our true image and usually discounting our team. I promise you, your team will see your weaknesses. Remember, your team won’t care what you know, until they know that you care.
- Listen First, Talk Second
The old adage, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason” fits perfect here. During that first meeting with my team members, my goal was to talk to them about their goals and dreams. The realization at the end of the meeting was that I did all of the talking, partly because I thought the leadership position was all about me. Here are three tips to improve your listening:
- Actually listen
- Be approachable
- Don’t interrupt
- Under Promise, Over Deliver
The second mistake I made in that meeting was over promising. I promised people I would make them so great that they would accomplish their goals, whether it was promotions, certifications, it didn’t matter, I was there to lead them to the promised land.What I didn’t realize at the time is that they are in control of their future, not me. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. Looking back, I shake my head at this. Some of these people were friends who I dearly hoped would accomplish their dreams. As a leader, I saw things from a different perspective and realized quickly that many did not have the ability to accomplish their dreams. Generally, they lacked dedication. I learned to be successful, I needed to:
- If you can’t keep a promise, don’t make it
- Find out the expectations first, then promise on delivering what you can
- Be realistic
- Set Expectations
In that first meeting I did all of the talking, but I didn’t communicate anything. I did not capitalize on the opportunity to set the expectations with my team. I never explained what I expected of them nor what they could expect of me. It was also a missed opportunity to ask for their input of what should be expected. You are only a leader if you have followers, you cannot force people into anything and be a leader. The five things about expectations I learned during this time are:
- Let your followers know what it takes to succeed.
- Communicate the expectations verbally first, then written to reinforce and give everyone a reminder.
- Ask the followers to contribute to the expectations list (both for themselves and what they should expect from you)
- Appreciate their results when they are above expectations
- Give regular feedback
- Command Respect
People wanted to be treated like people and adults. Regardless of your feelings towards them, they are both. If you want authentic respect, you must first give respect. Respect can be found in the basic forms through the way you treat people. My mom always taught me to treat the janitor the same as the CEO. I live by that to this day.When you invest in others, they take note. People want to follow people that care about them. When you show that you care, you are depositing in the respect bank. Be careful, you can make a withdrawal from that account in one action and wipe it clean.Remember to hold everyone accountable, but hold yourself to the highest level of accountability. Be the example, not the exception. Your followers will notice and remember your actions. My five areas that help with commanding respect are:
- Cast vision
- Take interest in personal/professional development of your followers
- Hold everyone accountable, especially yourself
- Work, I mean get out and do what your team does
- BE HUMAN! Remember everyone is a human.
As I touched on above, people want to feel that they are being fed. If you cannot provide for them they will find someone who will. You must be able to offer them growth and development. To do that you must also undertake growth and development for yourself.Imagine you are nearing retirement and they post your job for hire. Is there anyone on your team that is qualified? If not, you have not done your job as a leader to equip, develop, and empower your followers to succeed. There is no success without succession.
- Progressively empower your followers
- Share your knowledge
- Give ownership opportunities
- Develop future leaders
Question: Which of these five steps do you need to focus on the most? You can leave a comment by clicking here.