March 16

How to Easily Become a Better Leader

Have you ever experienced the frustration of trying to get better at something but we’re unable to do it? I mean something you were desiring with all your heart to do or become?

  • Have you really wanted to get in shape and tried to do so but it didn’t happen?
  • Have you ever wanted to be healthier, but it didn’t happen?

What happens when we try to do something and fail? We all know the saying about picking yourself up and not letting failure be permanent – it’s when we stop trying that we fail; failure is only temporary . . .

However, I’ve met a number of people who have tried and failed to make significant changes in their lives. I assume you have experienced that as well. Unfortunately, when that happens, we create an emotional story that we can’t make the big changes happen in our life. And it is easy to shy away from even trying something daunting again. This story in our heads is powerful and hard to over-write but it is possible. To start again, we need a better story about ourselves and a better process.

I wonder how many people have ever really wanted to become a better leader and it didn’t happen for them.

For those who have tried and failed to become better leaders here’s the easiest way to become a better leader this year :
  1. Start by taking an inventory of what leadership skills and abilities you have. To do this well, you will need to ask others what they think are your strengths. Don’t rely on your own self-assessment – get real feedback from those who have seen you lead and are objective.
  2. Once you have an inventory of skills and abilities, ask yourself in what situations and with which people could you use your strengths more frequently and more effectively? You will be much better at utilizing strengths that you already have then correcting weaknesses and deficiencies. Focus every week on when and with whom you can use those skills abilities.
  3. Leadership is not solely about the big rocks; it is about 100 little things that make a difference. Therefore, be clear about the little things that you do and don’t do that make a difference in the eyes of those people you are attempting to lead.

I remember when I was leaving my last executive position and a front-line employee came running up to me as I was walking to my car for the last time.  They said to me: “thank you for all you’ve done”. Humbly, I said I was afraid I didn’t do enough and wished I could have done more. He said to me: “but you don’t realize how much of a difference you’ve made”. I listened more intently. He said: “you’re the only member of senior management that knows my name – (long pause) – you’re the only one who will stop and talk to me. And that makes a difference to me – it made me feel important. Thank you!”

Little things often make a big difference! Here’s my leadership ‘little things’ top 10 list:
  1. Be yourself – authentic & transparent; don’t pretend to be something you are not or cover up your weaknesses. Own your weirdness (idiosyncratic behaviors). Some things about us seems too weird to others; quirks, hot buttons, mindsets, ways of doing something and let people know you’re a little weird and explain why you do what you do – this makes you human
  2. Treat each person as a person – as they want to be treated. (Know their name and something about them that is important to them).
  3. Make a statement about what you expect in terms of performance
  4. Make a declaration about what you expect in terms of growth and development
  5. Make team members know what you expect in terms of team interaction
  6. Provide feedback all the time: short, sweet and to the point: great things and poor things but be great at ‘catching people doing things approximately right’
  7. Push the envelope on your own development
  8. Focus on getting results through other people, not your own efforts. Everything the team does need to provide a return in terms of a result
  9. Have fun and if you are not about fun, delegate that to someone on your team – there must be some enjoyment or fun at work or else it is hard to want to keep doing it
  10. Demonstrate: empathy & concern for others and trust & respect

Are there other little things? Of course! I know you may not have the time to respond, but it would be great if you could let others know who are reading this article, what little things make a difference when leading others.


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