Good morning and Happy Monday! I’m Monica Wofford and this is this is your Monday Moment.
The question is how do you prevent having a shaky foundation in leadership? There are actually five steps, and these five steps came from some inspiration because my husband and I are currently in the process of building a new house. Now, the only people who say this process of building a new house is any fun, are those who’ve never built one, or at least that’s what I’m told. But as we’ve been going through this process I keep thinking about how it correlates to leadership and how once you have this job of being the leader, how do you prevent from having such an incredibly shaky foundation, or prevent things like being promoted, but not really prepared for the position. Those five steps, I’ve discovered, are an awful lot like the same ones you use when house building.
Create a Plan
The very first step is to create a plan. That plan is something of a strategic nature, long-term, 5 years out, or just the three months you can see right in front of you. The purpose is to create a plan. Maybe employ a professional to help you with some of the details with which you’re not yet familiar. That professional could be an HR person within your organization or your mentor or your leader who can help you with the finer aspects of an appropriate plan for the team you now have the privilege of leading. At a minimum, when you’re new to the position or even new to the organization, or maybe you just want to reinvigorate your current status as an effective amazing leader, create a plan. Create a plan for where you’re going. Create a plan for where you’re leading the team and create a plan for how both you and the team are going to get there. Plans are more solid than dreams or wish lists. Plans have specifics, dates, and very small chunked action items. Step one, to prevent a shaky foundation, create that plan.
Step two is a little like the permitting process when you seek to build a new house or build a new structure on your land and it’s not that you are looking to ask permission. This second step is looking at all the areas in which you might need the equivalent of a permit. So, step two, get permits. And maybe for you that looks like involving others from whom you really need engagement or buy in or what you need to permit yourself to start, stop, or continue doing. Where are these aspects that perhaps easing up on the should you put yourself through might be valuable? The permitting process in building a home, entails seeking specific government bodies to essentially make sure that your actions meet with their approval and predetermined criteria. In the case of working as a leader in an organization, or a nonprofit, or Corporate America, that might equate to you bringing your manager up to speed and seeing the areas in which you need to either seek permission and talk through criteria. (because I know all of our control freaks will readily think “seek permission from who exactly?”) Well, it may not be truly seeking permission, it might be seeking boundaries, it might be managing up and figuring out what are the criteria your leader has, and by which you are measured, and with which you need to follow or follow up, to be successful. So, you’re through the planning stage and now you’re seeking out the areas where you might need the equivalent of a permit or at least granted approval or acceptance of your chosen actions, at the beginning, middle, and frankly all throughout your leadership journey and adventure. That then leads to the third step of making sure you don’t have a shaky leadership foundation.
That third step, of course, is to begin building, but what are you building exactly? Well, certainly you’re building a team and meeting the needs of those team members. Your building skills and in yourself, your building additional skill sets as well. So, add on to the plan you created at the very beginning and now look at areas in which you need to build additional skill sets. Perhaps you need additional resources or additional equipment or maybe additional training that allows you to build an incredible, unstoppable, high-performing team. Perhaps it’s your knowledge of the building and development and maintenance. Perhaps your knowledge in the area of listening and communication, or emotional intelligence. Perhaps it’s building your individual team members’ focus or expertise in areas of accounting or areas of leadership presence. If you are managing managers, giving feedback without crushing their spirit, often it’s providing access to a simple webinar like we have with Contagious Companies. There’s 56 of them with various topics in which you could experience valuable skill building for individual team members or even for you, the leader, who’s seeking to build up your skills and become better.
Step four of you making sure that you avoid having a shaky foundation is to make adjustments. In the building world they call them change orders, and good grief are they expensive. In the leadership arena, if you don’t make adjustments that’s when it gets costly, and yes expensive, but not out of your own wallet so to speak, unless of course you are freed up to grow and take your skills somewhere else. More so it’s costly because doing the same thing, if it’s not working, will cause you to lose good people, will cause you to train the bad ones that their behavior is in fact, while mediocre, acceptable, and will handcuff you to your current level of performance. So, look closely and examine, remember that new sheriff in town video we did earlier this month? Make sure you are not missing some key components that are right in front of you, that really need adjusting. Maybe this is the time when you start looking at employee alignment. Do you have the employees in positions making the most of their natural gifts, skills, and talents? Are you in a position that serves to energize you versus drain you? Look for daily opportunities to make adjustments. Make the small tweaks, the minor nuances, that need to be modified in order for you to make more progress. Seek more accomplishment and be more successful.
Manage the Process
Lastly, the final step to preventing you from having a shaky leadership foundation is to manage this entire process. I will tell you that in the process of building a house, my husband is a wonderful supporter. We have a great team, and a great builder. That doesn’t mean that you leave them all to their own devices and hope they just figure it out and get everything done on time and under budget. It requires management, but remember management is usually reserved for things, leadership is that aspect reserved for people. Yet, your leadership journey, your leadership foundation, is a thing so it requires you to manage it. Manage how closely you follow through on your plan, manage how quickly you approach employees that you determine might not be a good fit. Manage how often you have conversations with your boss so that you stay connected and you are, effectively, and at the appropriate frequency, managing up. And manage how well you stay connected to those other professional resources. They’re going to help you stay on plan, stay in a trajectory of growth and increased effectiveness. Those may be your HR generalist, your HR leader, other leaders from other departments in your organization, that mentor, or maybe even your professional coach.
These five steps: make plans, seek permits, start building, make adjustments, and manage the process, will ensure you do indeed have a strong foundation for leadership. Without that strong foundation your growth will be built on something rather shaky. Your growth won’t have sustainability and frankly, neither will the team of those people you have the privilege of leading. You need a strong foundation from which to springboard to maybe that next position or at a minimum your next level of growth and opportunities and development.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a fantastic Monday, an even better week, and if you’re not already a member of the Contagious Community, check it out. Go to contagiouscompanies.com for information on training and coaching and how we can help you with employee alignment and leadership development. Also, if this message was forwarded to you, go to www.MondayMoment.com and become a member today so you receive these posts and videos straight to your inbox. We look forward to seeing you soon and of course, stay contagious!
Monica Wofford, CSP is a celebrated leader who develops future leaders. CEO of Contagious Companies, her firm delivers and designs leadership training for managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared, and the leaders who promoted them. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica and members of the Contagious team may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.