If you’ve ever struggled with an employee or said to yourself “I wish I could become a better leader”, please know there is no shortage of resources and tools for you. A simple search of any book store, any training library, or even Google will equip you with more knowledge than you can manage. But, even in the face of the abundance of tools, are they tools you use? Many leaders, I find, have limited time and even less confidence about the direction in which to go, when it comes to learning how to improve their leadership. For that reason, this Monday Moment focuses on the short, but valuable list of top ten essential tools the best leaders use.
Far back in history, one can find evidence of the most successful and influential leaders making time to plan. These leaders don’t fly by the seat of their pants. Instead they develop and then enact a plan born of consideration of the people involved, resources available and desired results. Whether on a project, employee development or improving the relationship with your own leader, what’s your plan?
Even if you prefer to listen to a book on Audible or download the content to your Kindle, reading is one fast way to absorb years of knowledge and turn it into wisdom. My Dad always said “Experience is what you gain from your own actions. Wisdom is what is gained from watching the actions of others.” Reading is a way of watching the actions, pitfalls, best practices, and lessons learned of others who’ve been down your road before.
I frequently talk about the myriad personalities present in the workplace. One such personality, the Organizer, is naturally inclined to spend time thinking about the right solution to any given problem. Others make rapid decisions and claim to think fast, but the truth is most spend more time thinking about their vacation than their future. Taking time to think is a trait of the best leaders. What’s the rush on that decision? And even if there is one, how much time are you allowing yourself to think about the best solution before doing something you’ll have to fix later?
You’ve heard the phrase “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” It’s been a common theme lately in many of our clients, in fact. Well meaning, well intentioned, intelligent leaders who have never stopped to think about what they really want…in their role, for their team, for their own leadership skills, or for their life and family. What kind of leader, person, father, mother, friend, boss, or teammate do you want to be? It’s time to get clear.
The art of letting go is about utilizing your sense of clarity to determine where you want to spend your energy. Is it really worth your time to find out all the ins and outs of the latest office drama or might you find it a better investment of your energy to lead yourself to some find valuable thinking time and let go of who said what to whom that neither party will remember next month anyway? This doesn’t mean don’t stay plugged in. It means at times, let go of unimportant details.
Whether through a formally structured program or a more casual approach, the best leaders have a mentor whose advice and ability to be a sounding board, they value most. For some, this mentor is a person they have never personally known. For others, it is a person with whom these leaders have regular meetings. Whichever you choose, find a mentor from which you can learn and whose perspective or wisdom you trust. No one has to be a leader alone.
When mentors are a nice supplement, but you want fast progress, a business coach is a powerful tool. A business coach is a guide on the side who pinpoints your exact need, barrier or behavior and serves as a trusted advisor and confidante to leaders for whom help from their colleagues is few and far between or in some cases not appropriate. What might a business coach help you with?
Much as no successful leader manages to produce all of their teams’ results alone, no leader is solely responsible for the entire development of each team member. The best leaders make time and allocate budgets to train those they lead in areas that will elevate the entire team. Rarely are there employees who would not benefit from leadership, conflict management, emotional intelligence, or communication training. What results could your team achieve if the team had increased skills from training?
Mind you, training isn’t only for the team, but also the leader. The best leaders are life-long learners always seeking to increase or enhance their knowledge base. One new nugget from a book, a course, a well-placed question at a social function, or contemplation over an issue before making that final decision, can make all the difference in how well that leader is perceived and actually performs. What have you learned lately?
Confidence is perhaps the leaders’ most important tool of all. Believing in your own abilities, skills for leading, vision, values, experience, and natural strengths, even if they still need polishing, gives you momentum. Momentum gains you faster feedback from which to make changes. It’s commonly called growth, but those leaders who don’t believe they even have the skills to succeed don’t stay leaders for long. They become stuck and someone else takes the lead. Just how much, in you, do you believe?
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!