Leadership is as much of an art as it is a science. Each experience is different and, therefore, will require unique skill sets to navigate. And yet, there are seven things, regardless of who you are and what you do, that a great Leader does each day.
1. Communicate the state of things
This “must-do” does not entail a formalized process. What it does equire is ensuring that you are giving your team updates, allowing for questions, and collecting any valuable insights that otherwise would not be attained. Few things are more detrimental to a team than choosing to play your cards close. That tactic from yesteryears is proven to suck employee morale dry. A leader needs to inspire takeaways, which will bring value to-and-for the team. Consistency in success relies on having all able hands on deck, working together and with mutual understanding, to make for the steadiest ship. If you’re trying to build better structure within mid-sized or larger organizations, the Leader should consider delegating the sharing of information amongst department/division heads and allow for them to disseminate the state of things to their reports. Choosing one-on-ones, senior staff huddles, and/or both (depending on what needs to be accomplished) are good ways to ensure this process smoothly moves forward. These should not substitute for any regularly scheduled staff meetings, which should be conducted at the frequency and manner that most makes sense for your organizational environment, sector, and company size. In turn, communicating the state of things to your department/division heads will task and empower them to take progressive roles in having ownership of communications relevant to their department/division while being “in the know” on the overall macro level. From there, department/division heads can allocate ownership to their reports. Everyone wins.
2. Form actionable plans
This process should be formalized, and it should conclude with agreement on what embraces the whole of the plan and won’t subjugate the plan to unnecessary distraction. Once the direction is chosen, a leader must stand behind the plan. There’s little more frustrating than a leader telling the team they’re going to deviate from a plan. However, it happens. So, it’s best to have a couple of alternatives in place with full buy-in from your team. Say “yes” when a deviation makes sense, adds efficiency, and complies with the direction. Diffuse planning motives when they aren’t aligned with the chosen path.
3. Develop resources
Your team will have specific needs to accomplish specific tasks and to reach/make goals. It’s the leader’s job to ensure teams have the right tools in place to succeed. Resources range a broad spectrum from enlisting the aid of experts to helping reprioritize objectives to make the space available for the team to complete other objectives to the acquisition of material assets. If particular tools are determined to be unreasonable to realize, revisit the planning– evaluate this early in the process to ensure assumptions can be met.
4. Develop people
A leader is, first and foremost, a coach. Invest time in getting to know your team beyond their trade and title. Create safe spaces and an environment worth coming into each day. Learn what drives your reports and employees to better inform your understanding of how the team works in its current construct and how to augment them. A leader will take the time to recognize strengths and weaknesses, provide and receive feedback, and then capitalize on prowess while challenging shortfalls. Build people up.
5. Trust the process
Nobody can succeed in a void. If you hire smart and put in the effort to give people latitude to learn and grow, you will have a capable and driven team. Let them do their jobs. They know them better than you ever will. To be successful, you will need to let them helm their operations.
6. Show appreciation and exude kindness
Solid teams make hard work look easy. It’s not. Be openly thankful. Be a positive force. Be a pragmatic optimist. Ensure gratitude is expressed equitably whenever possible. Do not play favorites. Do not doll out flattery. Be present, and be genuine, in that which you say.
7. Look forward
Everything in which we engage is a learning experience, whether it’s a personal first or a part of daily operating. Aspiring to look forward and to do better is a great motivator. Great leaders know there’s always a next step. Actively set the stage, and manage the expectations.