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3 Steps to Being More Like the Leader You Always Wished For

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3 Steps to Being More Like the Leader You Always Wished For

by Bill Catlette



Along the way, we’ve all observed and noted better (I hesitate to use the word, “best”) habits practiced by leaders we have come into contact with. I’m willing to bet that most of those habits are simple, straightforward, and have a high degree of commonality from one person to another. Here are three that stand out to me:

It Starts With Us, Not Them - We value being able to work in the company of someone who challenges us to be our best, someone who takes an interest in us, who listens to us, values our ideas, and tells us the truth. Someone who has high standards about work and conduct, but doesn’t burden others with their personal issues and neediness. They are eager to shine a bright light on the accomplishments of others, but don’t waste spotlight wattage by clapping for themselves. Selfies aren’t part of their game. You can do this. You just can’t do it if you’re going to be self-centered.

Be the Iron on the Ironing Board - Envision a hot iron gliding down the ironing board, silently removing wrinkles from an article of clothing. As leaders, it is our responsibility to ‘be that iron’ by identifying and removing impediments to our teammates’ best effort. Find the policies, procedures, methods, tools, etc. that are getting in the way, keeping people from doing their best work, and change or remove them. Making this a part of your daily regimen will earn a lot of discretionary effort from a grateful team.

Smile! - One morning, while facilitating a 4 day wilderness-based team development session in the wilds of SW Colorado, with two helmet-clad participants atop a very wobbly rope 5 feet in the air, and 16 of their co-workers spotting their imminent involuntary departure from the rope, my client, a smart, classy female executive leaned in and whispered into my ear, “You need to smile more.” What?! It’s 5 degrees below zero, I’m freezing my a$$ off while trying to teach these people something and keep them safe at a critical juncture, and you’re worried about style points for the cameras?

I talked with our client, Judith Rogala later that evening about her comment. As it turned out, she was right, as usual. Her advice to me: “The cameras I’m speaking of, and the ones you need to be concerned with are the ones astride the noses of each of these people. When they see you scowling or grimacing, it scares them, which causes them to pull back right at the time when you’re asking them to go places they’ve never been before.”

Leading a team can be tough, and some days are definitely better than others, but a smile can open hearts, minds, and doors. Every one of us can do it. It’s not too much to ask. Wax on, wax off.


If you would like to hear more about this topic in a one-on-one coaching session, keynote speech, or seminar, we would love to hear from you.  

Bill Catlette

Bill Catlette, @ContentedCows is an executive coach and business author who helps clients build lasting competitive edge by eliminating blind-spots and improving leadership habits. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.