Yes, but first some quick background to this post…
Her words stung as she freely hurled criticisms in my direction. A recently former employee, she was angry, but she caused me to question my skills and examine how I not only taught leadership, but how I learned to lead. Was it really possible for anyone to learn to lead, including me? Yes and here’s how to learn how to lead even better.
Don’t Discount Feedback
First of all, let’s talk about the angry words of a former employee. Even though hard to hear, there is usually a grain of truth in their experience. Listen to the words, filter out the emotion, and begin to analyze. Avoid the temptation to disregard that employee’s feedback completely because of who you think this person is or how they behaved that led to you freeing them up for new opportunities elsewhere. That said, not all employee feedback will be something upon which a leader takes action.
Trial and Error
This is perhaps the least effective method of learning to lead better. Employees will suffer and the leader suffers, as well, when flying by the seat of your pants and doing what feels right in the moment is your primary guide. Moments change, moods alter, and situational leadership without conscious thought leaves many a mixed message in its wake. No matter your age or level of experience, twenty years of leading wrong is still experience, but not what will help you. If trial and error has been your approach for learning leadership, maybe it’s time for more specific practice and less mistakes.
Personally Invest in Your Development
No matter how I say this, it will sound like a plug for our own suite of leadership courses, webinars, and consulting services that will, in fact, make you a more effective and better leader. That said, the leaders I’ve worked with in the last 25 years are more well equipped to handle the tough times, lead a team through change, and develop a team that collaborates, learns, and leads other teams in the succession plan. If you are not personally investments in your own leadership training and development, you either don’t think you are worth the improvement or don’t think it’s possible on a budget. There are many affordable options specific to your immediate leadership training need. Here are just a few examples: Leadership Webinars (scheduled and on-demand) | Leadership Training Courses | Leadership Coaching
Find a Mentor
I just received a book from a fellow board member. Her note with the book mentioned how she, too, loved reading about strong women and thought I might enjoy this book about the Widow Clicquot of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. I LOVED IT! A mentor in a book. Leaders need mentors and whether you find them in reading leadership books or through colleagues at the office or your neighbor who’s a retired executive, a mentor is a valuable part of your leadership learning.
Make the Time
Many a leader has told me that they don’t have time to do training. It’s the busy season or they are in the middle of an audit or a merger is about to occur. All of these events are exactly the time to do training as these are when exceptional leadership skills are needed most. The trick is to see leadership training as a process versus an event. Leadership doesn’t happen overnight. Leadership skills are not injected, even if they are contagious. Hehe! Determine you or the team’s specific need, or consult with a leadership development expert to narrow down your focus, and make the time to take it one step at a time. A webinar once a month will go a long way toward developing your skills and giving you interim time to practice those skills so that the training has staying power.
No one likes to receive negative feedback and I’m no exception. What this former employee said had some truth, but what it taught me is we ALL have areas to which we are blind and that could use some improvement. Whether it is in hiring the right people, creating a better strategic plan, building a team, or designing expectations, you can develop more effective leadership skills with minimal time, investment, and effort. Much less effort, I might add, than it takes to work through the process of letting someone go that perhaps was not a good fit for you or the team in the first place.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!