Armed with engagement surveys and research, a few colleagues and I set out to learn what’s different about the people who lead America’s best workplaces. Our goal was to escape from management theory and consultant jargon and break leadership down to its most universal elements. Companies recognized as America’s Best Places to Work blogs and articles were researched.
THESE ARE THE 15 TRIED AND TRUE SKILLS THAT WILL MAKE YOU A LEADER WORTH FOLLOWING:
1.DEFINE YOUR DESTINATION
[VISION OF THE FUTURE]
ALL GREAT LEADERS HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON: VISION.
Whether you’re leading a huge company or a small team, you need to be able to communicate an inspiring vision of the end goal. Leading implies movement from here
to there. Great leaders envision and communicate the destination. What’s your purpose? Sit down and write out your vision, the end goal. This will become a rallying cry so prepare to communicate your vision again and again.
Without vision, you can’t lead; you can only wander.
2. CHART YOUR COURSE
IF VISION DEFINES THE DESTINATION, CLARITY IS THE ROADMAP.
In an uncertain world, people are hungry for clarity. Great leaders see the trip in their minds before they leave and plan for the road ahead. Your people want to know how their role specifically supports the greater vision. Sit
down with each member of your team and help them
understand how they fit into the mission.
3. BE READY TO ADJUST YOUR COURSE
AS THE JOURNEY EVOLVES, YOU’LL SEE UNEXPLORED LANDSCAPES AND POTENTIAL SHORTCUTS.
Great leaders are willing to take prudent risks on their way toward the destination. You’ll need to make tough choices about which shortcuts are worth exploring and which shortcuts are too risky.
4.BECOME CHIEF PROBLEM SOLVER
YOUR MAP WON’T ALWAYS BE ACCURATE . SHORTCUTS WON’T ALWAYS WORK OUT. THERE WILL BE PROBLEMS.
Great leaders are great problem solvers. You need the ability to recognize and address a problem before it becomes an emergency. You’ll need to be a fair mediator when conflict arises between members of your team. And great leaders never tolerate a bad crew member. Think about your team, are their people who are threatening your journey?
5.EMBRACE CHANGE & TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
GREAT LEADERS TRACK THEIR PROGRESS TO GET BETTER AS THE JOURNEY GOES ON.
As you confront problems, change course and explore new ground, you’ll also need to gather feedback and learn from your mistakes. Never get comfortable; complacency
is the beginning of the end for many leaders. You should always be challenging the status quo and looking for
opportunities for improvement.
6.BE AN EXPERT
GREAT LEADERS ARE ETERNALLY CURIOUS.
You might be leading a journey through uncharted territory; but you can always learn from other expeditions. Study the competition and those that have gone before. Seek out ways to learn about what stands between you and the goal. Understand the financial implications of your decisions relative to the budget for your journey. Don’t expect people to follow you if you’re not an expert – or at least on your way to becoming one.
INNOVATION STEMS FROM THE LATIN INNOVATIO, MEANING “ TO RENEW OR CHANGE”.
And since leadership is all about creating postive change, leadership is fundamentally tied to innovation. Maybe innovation is your end goal (like a new product or service). Or maybe it’s a new way to get to your end goal (like the compass was for ancient mariners). Either way, leaders must constantly look for innovative ideas and solutions.
They develop a ‘culture of innovation’, an environment that encourages and rewards innovation. And most importantly, great leaders are good at picking which innovations
8.GET THINGS DONE
IDEAS ARE OVERRATED.EXECUTION IS WHAT LEADERSHIP IS REALLY ABOUT.
Great leaders set and communicate aggressive goals. They are able to manage priorities during hard times and point their people toward the most worthwhile problems. The best leaders understand that they cannot do it all; they delegate responsibilities to their team and hold their team accountable for the results.
9.EXERCISE GOOD JUDGEMENT
TO EARN YOUR FOLLOWERS TRUST AND RESPECT, YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE SOUND DECISIONS.
Don’t subscribe to the trust-your-gut school of leadership. Great leaders make data-driven decisions. They collect and analyze the right data to make sound decisions. They look at all their options and balance short and long-term considerations when making judgments.
10.KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
LEADERSHIP CAN BE LONELY.
At times you will feel isolated, even from the members of your own team or inner circle. It can be tempting to hole up in your ivory tower, mapping out strategy. But great leaders maintain their focus on the client. They get out into the field to intimately get to know their customers’ needs. They develop and encourage strong relationships with customers. And they successfully prioritize customer requests.
11.BUILD A GREAT CREW
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT ATTRACTING FOLLOWERS. IT’S ABOUT ATTRACTING THE RIGHT FOLLOWERS.
Great leaders know there’s a ceiling to what they can get done alone – so they need to surround themselves with great people to leverage their effectiveness. Great leaders don’t stack their team with weak players in order to cement their leadership; they surround themselves with the best players they can find.
12.INSPIRE THE TEAM
MOST PEOPLE THINK INSPIRATION LOOKS LIKE THE COACH’S HALF TIME SPEECH AT A FOOTBALL GAME .
But you don’t need to be a motivational speaker to inspire your team. That’s because actions talk louder than words. You’ll get the best commitment from your team by setting an example for your team. When they see your energy and enthusiasm in pursuit of the vision, they’ll be inspired to follow suit.
Intrinsic rewards like feeling valued and pursuing a worthy goal are often more motivating than extrinsic rewards like cash or other concrete benefits.
13.EARN THEIR TRUST
ONE OF THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOR LEADERSHIP IS TRUST.
What builds trust? Honesty (telling the truth) and integrity (keeping your promises) are vital to earning and maintaining trust. Then sit down and listen to your
people. Get to know their skills and interests —repeat it back to them so they know you’ve heard. Do it because it’s the right thing to do — and also because you’ll earn their trust.
14.BREAK DOWN WALLS
GREAT LEADERS ARE CONNECTORS.
They connect their followers to one another. They tear down barriers to collaboration. They bring together teams and people to drive results. They develop collaborative partnerships to make things happen. And they evangelize the vision across this network of connected followers, teams and partners. What more can you do to connect your followers in order to create new opportunities?
15.CARE.REALLY, TRULY GIVE A HOOT.
GREAT LEADERS ARE COMMITTED TO KEEPING THEIR PEOPLE AROUND.
How do you retain your best people? First, genuinely acknowledge your people for great work. Sometimes that means publicly, but authentic recognition also happens one- on-one; it means pulling them aside to say “I noticed what you did. And it was awesome.” The key to retaining your best people is demonstrating genuine care and concern for them and proving your commitment to creating a great workplace.
Sometimes what gets left off a list is equally as interesting. A sampling of leadership skills that were discarded by leading HR executives were:
financial acumen, global perspective, and executive presence. Perhaps these were too narrow to apply to broad leadership teams. Or perhaps they represent
a generation of management competencies that have been left behind.
What we learned is that the 15 elements above are the great separators. They are the characteristics that distinguish adequate from awesome.
As you think about how you’d grade in these 15 competencies, pick one or two to focus on. Progress comes to those who focus on one skill at a time.
Get feedback from your peers and direct reports. Find someone in your company or community that’s widely recognized for excellence in the competency you’re focused on — and buy her lunch. Once you’ve mastered one, move on to two.
Excellence happens one step at a time
A LEADER KNOWS THE WAY, GOES THE WAY, AND SHOWS THE WAY.” ---John C. Maxwell
To your greater success,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach and Trainer
P. S. Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.