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Leaders: Develop These Three Qualities for Greater Impact

June 30, 2017, Debbie Shotwell - Great leaders aren’t magical creatures —we can actually become better leaders who inspire and lead our teams to greater cohesiveness, better work and increased revenue.
Leaders: Develop These Three Qualities for Greater Impact

HR expert Ron Thomas recently told the story of an engaged CEO he worked for early in his career. This particular CEO was most likely to be found “in the mail room, or sitting next to a junior designer, or arguing with the sports fanatics over a recent game,” Ron writes. “That was a powerful lesson for me; she set the example that everyone has value.”

You can probably think of someone in your own career life who was a positive influence using one or more leadership qualities. The good news is all of us can develop leadership skills, starting today. Great leaders aren’t magical creatures who pop into our cubicles—we can actually become better leaders who inspire and lead our teams to greater cohesiveness, better work and yes, increased revenue.

Vulnerability: We’re All Human

We know some of you are cringing just a bit with this leadership quality. But hear us out: we’re not talking about conference room hug fests. The vulnerability we’re lauding is a leadership trait that earns trust from those you lead. By showing your weaknesses and not hiding from the imperfect, you’re signaling: I’m human. Aren’t we all?

What this looks like in real life:

> Be comfortable admitting that you don’t know something. It’s okay not to know everything about a particular situation or problem.

> Be aware of “CEO Disease” where the higher up the ladder you climb, the less self aware you become. A trusted counselor or mentor can help point out blind spots.

> Be ready to show vulnerability in public. For instance, at the annual sales kickoff, you could tell a story about a frustrating challenge you had earlier in your career. Stories are fantastic ways to share experiences to which we can all relate.

Empathy: Active Listening

HR writer and speaker Laurie Ruettimann suggests that the most successful leaders in any field are the ones who demonstrate empathy on a regular basis. Far from a squishy concept, showing empathy has surprisingly tangible benefits. Leaders who exhibit empathy can identify happiness (and also unhappiness) on the team. Who needs a pep talk today? Who is rocking the new project and wants to tell you all about it?

Leaders who express empathy can show gratitude more swiftly. After all, if you’re paying attention, you’ll know that Aaron in accounting is going to have knee surgery and needs extra time off for doctor appointments. And an empathetic leader will give a listening ear to Alice, who was recently promoted to manager for the first time and is struggling with a team member who was not selected for the role.

What this looks like in real life:

> Spend time at the end of each day, making the rounds to your team’s desks (for remote workers, pick up the phone for a personal call at least once per week). Short conversations will allow glimpses into your team’s joys, challenges and concerns.

> Empathetic bosses have loyal employees. Think long-term: what can you today to ensure your employees stay with the organization?

>  Have a disgruntled employee? Try not to be defensive but listen to them vent. Don’t be quick to offer solutions, but seek to understand the situation first.

> Make sure to fill your own bucket first! Take time for a rich life outside the office with family and friends.

Communication: Your Work Depends on It

We’re all at work to work. So, there’s a lot to get done. Creating a productive work environment depends on high-quality communication.

You might have a problem with communication on your team if people look at you blankly after accepting an assignment. Or if work is consistently turned in that doesn’t quite hit the mark. Consider if your management style is part of the problem: Do ideas live in your head but not on paper or in a project management system?

Team members will be willing to trust you more when you communicate. Your employees shouldn’t have to guess what you think. Tell them! Maintain an open-door policy and make sure to circulate around the office daily, stopping to chat about the latest project.

What this looks like in real life:

> Set up regular one-on-one meetings for informal discussions. Treat these recurring meetings seriously and don’t cancel them on a whim. They matter to your employee, and they should matter to you as well.

> Use the one-on-one meetings to ask questions, clarify expectations and give performance feedback. Ask for feedback on your performance as well.

Pro Tip: Learn how to engage employees in a coaching conversation and why to stay away from the “sandwich approach” to delivering feedback.

Being an effective and inspirational leader will urge your team to greater growth and development. We’re all stronger together, so be encouraged that your leadership qualities will bear fruit as you strengthen them day by day.

Want practical strategies for coaching your own team? Download the Saba ebook, “Tackling Employee Coaching: Your Hands-On Playbook for Practical Success.”

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