It’s usual for leaders not to realize that Leadership is like a performance with few opportunities for mistakes. You are under the spotlight 24/7, and your credibility is built or lost in moments, whether your emotional intelligence is engaged or not.
A leader’s team is often comprised of critics who are demanding and have high expectations for you. They give you the benefit of the doubt initially and expect that:
You spent time thinking about the situation at hand.
You know exactly what you want.
There is a clear purpose in all of your communications and actions.
You know what can be done or not done to add value.
You have all the answers.
What you say, your behavior, and your non-verbals all contribute to whether your team are satisfied with you as a leader. Of course we know that many of these assumptions are false, but if these expectations are not met, then judgments are quickly made looking for validation and revalidation. Specifically:
You don’t know what you are doing.
You don’t have the answers.
You don’t think anyone has any value.
You are not clear about where you, the team, or the organization is going.
You are not a leader who is credible and respected.
Your daily leadership walks a tight rope daily. A fall can cost you dearly, so wouldn’t you benefit from practicing and learning the moves better? Sure you would.
Leadership is a Dance:
The leadership dance has special steps, yet often organizations, business schools or graduate school don’t teach the steps. Just like the other processes in your organization, the sales process, manufacturing process, quality assurance process, there is a process to leadership.
To understand and define the most critical components of effective leadership, The Blanchard Companies launched a study in 2006. More than 1,400 leaders, managers, and executives shared their views on critical skills and common mistakes connected to leadership. Three top things stood out that leaders admitted they fail to do:
1. 82% agreed they fail to provide appropriate feedback (praise, redirection)
2. 81% said they fail to listen to or involve others in the process
3. 76% admitted failure to use a leadership style appropriate to the person’s task, and situation (over-supervising or under-supervising)
Leaders tend to mimic what one of their bosses have done with them, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. Sometimes, they simply wing it.
The leadership process has it’s own beat and rhythm. The quality of leadership suffers as does the team if you don’t follow the process, and ultimately, the organization suffers, too. Do check more about leadership training, management development programme and other skills which can help you reach the top level of any organization.
In learning any new skill, like golf, tennis or dance, you first learn the right steps and then practice them over and over. Delegation, giving feedback, coaching, managing up and across, decision making and getting buy-in all have specific steps that leaders can learn.
One of the first questions I ask in my work as an Executive Coach and Corporate trainer is how often they delegate in a day. Most say about 5 to 7 times a day. Next I ask l how often they provide feedback to their employees. The answer is usually 4 to 5 times a day. These are two critical skills that leaders and managers do daily, yet most don’t have any established system or process. So what are the dance steps on the floor to follow?
I developed a step-by-step, proven process for these daily critical skills. My free Leadership Keys iPhone App contains videos and an associated PDF that answers the following questions:
How do you decide when to step in and out with direction for your employees?
How do you hold accountabilities?
What is the best way to give feedback?
How can you be very clear in your delegation?
How do you coach, empower, and when do you give advise?
What is best practice for making decisions and getting buy-in?
How can you manage up and across?
There is a process and clear steps to answer the above questions. When you, as a leader, practice, practice, practice, these steps become second nature, fluid and focused.