I saw a tweet recently referencing the 7 ways to work your way up to management and thought I would offer a twist. Working one’s way up to Management is about getting promoted, whereas working your way up to Leadership is about getting productivity and getting professionally developed.
Anyone of any personality type, like those we utilize with the CORE Profile, can be a leader. It simply takes skills, desire, and practice. In that vain, here are seven skills that if implemented with a desire to practice them regularly, will dramatically increase your positive influence in leadership and your skills to lead not only others, but yourself more effectively.
First, Show Respect
As we discuss in Chapter 1 of Contagious Leadership, Leaders Value and Respect those they work with. This means you can no longer refer to team members as those who work FOR you. They work WITH you and talking about them just like that, even calling them those you have the privilege of working with, is a sign of respect and value of their unique talents, gifts, and skills.
Second, Take an Interest in Their Growth
In What Does Leadership Take, I mention that one must be yourself, then lead yourself, before you really have any business leading others. How much interest, really, do you have in the growth of those they lead. Do you seek out growth opportunities for them? Do you help them to fine tune their areas of development or do you merely let their lack of skill in certain areas bug you? Become interested in their growth and they’ll become interested in your leadership.
Third, Ask for Help from Those You Lead
No one likes a no it all. When was the last time you asked those you have the privilege of leading, for help? Likely, they are closer to the actual problem than you are and asking them for help on that problem will show them that you value their input and expertise. Remember, asking for help is different than dropping the whole project or problem in their overloaded lap. You’re looking to form a partnership not a dictatorship.
Fourth, See Mistakes as Learning Experiences
The common example of growth and making mistakes is you learning to walk and falling down in the process. We learn best from the “fall downs” and in an effort to help others grow, you have to know, accept, and work with the idea that those you lead (and you, too!) will make mistakes. Be okay with that and teach them how to learn from them before you chastise them for making the mistake in the first place.
Fifth, Stop Micromanaging Others so Frequently
There is, believe it or not, a time and a place and a type of person to micromanage and typically it is only those who are new to the team or role and those who are struggling with the role or task. The others, and even these folks once they learn the job, are not fans of micromanagement. You treat others how to treat you and if what you want is high initiative, high performing team members, then stop training the initiative right out of them by hovering over their every move. Let them fly a little, make a mistake or two, get involved in new projects that you’ve asked for help on, and watch them soar!
Sixth, Provide Praise for Small, Large, and Specific Efforts
In Chapter Six of Contagious Leadership, we talk about the four types of recognition. In our Contagious Leadership training courses we talk about the four preferences of team members you will lead. When you combine those two, there is tremendous value in learning who likes public or private praise and who likes specific or general recognition. Provide what the employee or team member needs and show how much you value their contributions in a way that they understand and is motivational or encouraging.
Seven, Learn to Listen
Often a newly promoted leader will spend far more time talking than listening. If that habit continues, employees learn not to share as no one is listening anyway. Listen to what’s working. Hear what’s not working. Tune into the grapevine and avoid the temptation to change your every move based on one tiny piece of feedback. The key is to listen to them and listen for the feedback. They’ll tell you if what you’re doing and how you’re leading is working for them.
While it’s true that Leadership begins with you, it is not about you. It is about those you have the privilege of leading. These 7 Steps will improve your professional leadership development and if applied to the voices in your own head, it also improves your personal development at the same time. What a deal!
Enjoy your leadership journey, and of course, Stay Contagious!