Want to develop as a leader? Focus on these three adjectives

by Mar 4, 2011Insights, Leadership, Leadership Transitions, Managing Talent, Performance Management, Self awareness

Leadership is not easy.  It does not get any easier by the endless number of competency models, development programs, books, blogs, and opinions that seem to get thrown at new leaders.  In case you were wondering, I don’t have an answer on a sure fire way to become a great leader in the next 300 words.

What I offer is a solution to something I see in leaders at all levels, and that is an incredible talent for getting work done but a struggle building relationships with peers and their team.  Here are three adjectives that should be part of the selection and development of any leader.  If people are willing to use these words to describe a leader then they are  doing something right.

  • Transparent – What are your priorities?  What are you worried about?  Often the speed at which you are operating and the dozens of things you are dealing with at any one time make it hard for people to know what you are thinking. 
  • Consistent – Respect comes before like for leaders.  Do people know what to expect from you around vacations?  Lunch breaks?  Professional development requests?  Deadlines?  Personal calls?  Celebrations?
  • Authentic – Regular people laugh, cry, have bad hair days, and sometimes have to say they are sorry for something they did or said.  Leadership models too often paint a picture of someone who sounds more like Superman or Wonder Woman.  Leaders do all the things regular people do – with a balance of providing strength, energy, and passion for an effort.  This one is probably the toughest.

So what do these adjectives look like in practice?  Here are a few tips:

  • When taking over a new team, take time to find out what they do and don’t pretend to have all the answers.  (authentic, transparent)
  • Develop standard events around communication, performance discussions, follow-up to questions/issues, and celebrating special events. (consistent)
  • Get to know the outside lives of your people and let them get to know yours. (transparent)

There are many more, but hopefully this starts the discussion.  Feel free to share some important things that I might have missed.  I don’t know everything. (transparent, authentic)  🙂

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