As a leadership coach, I work with managers up and down the ladder, helping them capitalize on their strengths, discover hidden (to them) weaknesses, and rehab or minimize the impact of the latter. In almost every case, these leaders find that there is more work for them to do in at least one of the following areas. As an emerging leader, some effort on your part now, while you’re still in a formative stage will pay great dividends to you.
Less Selfies, More Ussies
Being a leader is not about you. Repeat, it’s not about you. Rather, it’s about them… the team, the mission. In that vein:
- Be quick to share credit, and to take rightful responsibility when things go wrong. You, your brand, and your rep will be much better burnished by the well-shared accomplishments of your team than by any solo spotlights you put on yourself. Put the selfie-stick away.
- Rather than surrounding yourself with the trappings of power (even the little ones), pay attention instead to making sure, real sure that your team has what it needs to succeed – the tools, the training, the information, the freedom to do their very best work.
- The best leaders are quick to use the influence and tools at their disposal, including personal resources, to give their team a better chance to succeed, and some recognition when they do. Good leaders realize that part of their role is to occasionally TOFTT, and get beat up a bit for someone on the team without “passing the heat.”
Ten Words You Need to Get Comfortable With
- No. I’m not suggesting here that you become hard hearted – not at all. But I am recommending that you be extremely judicious about the projects you join or accept, and the meetings you attend. Otherwise, the day will come very soon when you discover that you are fully consumed by non-core activities, you go home tired every night, and yet the things you get paid to do aren’t getting done. Worse yet, you won’t be the only one who has noticed.
- Thank You. No one gets tired of hearing these words, do they? Use them well, use them often.
- I Don’t Know. If you don’t know the answer to something, either remain silent until you figure it out, or simply say you don’t know. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t build confidence when you bs people. Rather, you diminish your perceived authenticity and humility, both of which are essential to your success.
- What Do YOU Think? It’s easy for us as leaders to have our thought processes limited, if not poisoned by breathing our own stale exhaust. Asking people to tell you what they think about a given subject conveys respect for them, and can produce ideas and solutions that you never would have dreamt of, if you will display the good sense to listen to them.
Grow, Baby! Landing your first leadership gig is the start, not the culmination of your development. How long you last in this role, how successful you are, and how enjoyable the experience is all hinge on your ability to learn and adapt, starting right now.