Leaders roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, unless, of course, they believe they’re beyond that level. And that belief could exist for a number of reasons. But, no matter the reason for believing one no longer needs to go back to the basics or do the things those brand new team members need to do, when a leader feels this way, their behavior often resembles arrogance. Worse yet, it rapidly launches a leader into a place where they are woefully out of touch with those they lead. So rather than simply walk around where others work and rather than ask questions so you have an idea about what they do and need, complete each one of these three simple tasks to keep you grounded in real leadership, in touch with those who need you to lead, and in leading more effectively. (And yes, even if you’ve already heard these or have done these before, much like a garden that requires the gardener to get in the dirt and nurture each new seed if they desire new growth, chances are you’ve got a new seed or two that need you, too.)
Start with you and state what you expect to yourself of yourself and of others. More than writing lovely sounding words on a plaque or public banner, when a leader actually clarifies and states his or her expectations in a variety of areas, all team members gain clarity of perspective and direction. What ARE your expectations on work ethic, punctuality, management of conflict, team work, integrity, and/or customer treatment? Assuming they know because you’ve said them before is like telling your spouse you love them on your wedding day, but never again, and assuming they still know.
Many organizations provide goals for their leaders, but it behooves you still to create a few of your own. What do you want to do? With whom and by when? What do you want to accomplish between now and the accomplishment then of that audacious goal and desire? What will you need? Who will you need to help you complete it? Daily, weekly, monthly, hourly, or on an annual basis, creating goals when you’re the leader is merely one of the first steps to assure you actually get somewhere.
Stephen Covey perhaps framed it up best when he vocalized and videoed exercises on his 7 Habits. The influence of that book and his work lives on, but there is a whole generation now who has no idea who he is or was. There is a whole generation now who cocks their head to the side when you mention sharpening their saw or planning and preparing being Q2 activities. If this is you, Google some information on him and then pay attention. Take the time to prepare and plan for who you are expecting to reach what goal. Are they well suited to reach that goal or do you simply expect them to do as they’re told? Are they skilled enough? Are they naturally inclined to reach for exceeding a goal? Are they naturally inclined to only and exactly do as they’re told, when you’re expecting them to break a mold and think outside some proverbial box?
In myriad ways, the simple phrase of “it’s the little things that matter” has been stated. These “little things” are big in leadership and without anyone of these three, you’re leading by trial and error, flying by the seat of your pants and hoping you get where you want to go. The most effective leaders have at least a simple plan of attack, action steps to track, and a clear handle on exactly who is going to be a part of the team (and why they are a critical piece) that will make amazing progress.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.