In every organization, leadership lives. Whether good or bad, done well or done poorly, leadership in every company and frankly any gathering of people is alive and well. The trick is in doing it well if what one is after includes favorable outcomes. So, what does it take to live leadership daily in way that works effectively? Surprisingly, it may take less than you think, and used consistently, may incorporate as few as three specific action items. Stemming from a change in our blog theme and a review of the last eight years of Monday Moment postings, today’s focus seeks to boil down the act of living leadership on a daily basis and exactly what, in its simplest form, that actually takes.
Whether the skill needing mastery is emotional intelligence, communication, engagement, delegation, team expansion or group basket weaving, those leaders who learn to become a better leader the fastest are the ones who practice. Every day, in every encounter, in every opportunity for exposure to new information or greater visibility, those who live the concept of what it means to be a leader, practice. They also practice learning in areas perhaps lesser connected to their work. They also practice authenticity as a person. They also practice understanding who they are, how others are different, and how to temporarily modify to close those gaps. Living leaders are practitioners of the skills they know, once better, will make them better and more effective. To become a better leader, get cracking on that list of skills or body of knowledge on which you know you need to practice.
The need for practice aside, and perhaps going in a slightly different direction, those leaders who are really living the concept of leadership, both of others and themselves, determine reality. In other words, they clarify with crystal transparency, what they are really after. Instead of simply acting on daily tasks, these leaders are two or three steps ahead, aware of the experience, environment, or feeling they are really after. In order to live the concept of leadership, take the time to determine why you became a leader in the first place. What are you really after? What do you really want the team to achieve? Do you want them to exceed their numbers while being completely whiny, causing drama and making your life miserable? Or do you want to slightly exceed the team goal without all the extra emotional output? It’s not for others to judge your reality, but for you to determine what it needs to be. To become a better leader, get more specific. Determine what you want. Determine what you’re willing to do to get it. Determine what you’re not willing to do ever. Then determine what is your next, most important, immediate step and take it.
Bad things happen. Mistakes get made and employees can cause leaders to consider bald as a new fashion statement. Face it and bounce back from each of these realities. Once clarity has been determined on what the leader is really after, living leadership is a matter of continually bouncing back from the times when one is off track or finds he or she is going in the wrong direction. Are you resilient? Are you looking through the windshield or staring headlong into the rear view mirror? Are you complaining about what never was, what should have been, and what has yet to come to fruition or are you focused with laser precision on what you want and what you know, trust, and are willing to work toward to make happen? Real leaders are resilient. To become a better leader who lives leadership daily, decide now of what you need to let go; decide now what needs to be done to move forward; and decide now what you will no longer stay stuck in preventing your own growth and development.
Perhaps one bonus action that successful leaders practice much more regularly is asking for help. There is nothing in the process of promotion that says once this position and new title is placed, the person in it must learn to do everything for him or herself. Ask those you lead for guidance on issues they are closer to you than you’ll ever be in your position. Ask those with experience and expertise to show you how to do it well from the beginning, not once you’ve mucked it up and are trying to regain your reputation. Ask those who lead you to share their wisdom. Ask for outside help, such as a mentor, colleague, or professional executive coach. Those who live leadership day to day know that always going solo is simply not the fastest, most effective, best long term way to go.
Added after podcast recording: Doesn’t it seem we knew all of this as kids? We tried and tried again. We asked for help when we needed it and we knew what we want and practiced daily, out of necessity if nothing else. Have we grown out of living leadership? Maybe we simply think we’ve lived enough to no longer have to practice and be an active participant in our leadership. Something to think about, not a good practice to live.
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.