How to lead like it matters
Four ways managers, executives, and CEOs can create a positive ripple effect and make a real difference for success
Whether you’re a manager, executive, or CEO, your leadership style matters. If you’re running a large global firm, a small project team, or an entrepreneurial venture, it’s the way you communicate and connect to other people that will make or break your success. Make each and every connection count by developing and leveraging your skills and playing to your strengths.
Problems, pressures, and pain points plague managers at every level, but most of them are easy to solve. Understand that every leadership choice you make is critical to your success and has a ripple effect throughout your team and your organization at large. Leaders need to know how to ensure that the changes they make have the intended positive impact, whether it’s running meetings, handling conflicts, making confident decisions, or instituting changes in the workplace.
When leaders approach and execute effective leadership correctly, they often gain greater control of their organization’s future, build highly productive teams, and institute changes that stick.
What can you do to be a great leader? Focus on the following four tenets of leadership to ensure that your company experiences the desired ripple effect; they can revolutionize the way you lead and succeed.
- Personal mastery
It is imperative to discover exactly who you are as a leader — your purpose, values, and vision — and how you affect others, your style, preferences, strengths, and challenges. By knowing and growing the leader within, you can then draw on your strengths to influence others.
Begin by getting direct feedback from your boss and anonymous feedback from your direct reports, peers, and clients about your leadership style and impact. This will tell you how you are perceived in your role and discern what’s working for you and what’s not. Play to your strengths and work with trusted colleagues or a business coach to mitigate your blind spots and challenges.
- Interpersonal mastery
Powerful leaders have excellent communication and management skills, which engage, motivate, and inspire employees. Such leaders know how to listen deeply and communicate effectively with others, how to constructively provide feedback (including to their boss), and how to manage conflict successfully.
Begin by practising deep listening. Most of us know how in theory — be mindful and tactically apply it. At the end of every conversation, ask the person talking to you if they felt you fully heard understood them and what made them feel that way. Practise demonstrating empathy in every conversation, no matter the subject.
- Team mastery
The most successful leaders harness the power of group dynamics to build stronger, more productive teams. Leaders who want to succeed need their teams to succeed, and teams are made up of individuals. The reality is that people and groups are messy. It takes awareness, attention, time, and skill to get the best out of your teams. It’s worth every ounce of investment when done well.
For new or existing teams, begin by taking the time to establish ground rules, which enable each team member to feel safe, be fully heard, believe that they belong, and feel that what they have to offer matters to the leader and the other team members.
Each team member possesses a skillset that has the potential to benefit the company greatly overall. With an established team, you might put this skillset topic on the agenda as a simple housekeeping line item. Employ whatever positioning works for you and your group. Then make sure the group maintains accountability to the ground rules for themselves and each other to ensure the effort you make is not in vain.
- Culture and systems mastery
Take the lead in assessing your organization, and make the changes you need to succeed. To understand leadership, you must understand the cultures operating around you. An organization’s espoused values may or may not reflect the real operating culture of the organization. You need to know what the culture really is and how it affects your people and overarching business results.
Begin by walking around the organization and really observing the lay of the land, as if you were in a foreign country. What language are they speaking? How are they dressed? What do their work locations look and feel like? How do different groups interact? Does there seem to be a lack of communication? Actively listen, delve deeper, and ask more questions. However, never ask questions if you are not prepared to hear the answers in an open manner or actually address issues brought to your attention.
When leaders excel at these four attributes of effective leadership, they reap quantifiable rewards, including increased employee engagement, reduced turnover, and enhanced productivity. No matter the decision at hand — whether it’s cutting wasteful meetings, addressing conflict, or better aligning decisions with tactical business needs — every choice a leader makes will have a ripple effect. It’s the leader’s approach, attitude, and skills that determine if the resultant ripple effects of seemingly singular choices will be helpful or a hindrance as each one travels through the system.
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Reprinted with the permission of Roxi Hewertson, president & CEO of the Highland Consulting Group and author of Lead Like It Matters…Because It Does, and a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives, and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission-critical facets of business. Visit www.askroxi.com for additional information.