If you’re like me, you recognize that becoming an effective leader demands hard work and commitment. It requires more than just reading but actual “doing” and learning from your experiences. Sometimes when we are in the “doing” mode we forget some of what we have read and then realize after the dust settles that there was a different or additional technique that you should have tried. At times like this, I wish that I had a “pocket reminder” so that when it gets confusing I would have a simple guide to help me.
Having said this, I am not suggesting that there is either a simple or “one size fits all” approach to leadership. As I said several lines up - “becoming an effective leader demands hard work and commitment on your part. It requires more than just reading but actual “doing” and learning from your experiences”. But, if a simple pocket reminder helps you on your leadership development journey, then so be it; as the title of this post reads, “let me give it to you as straight as I can”.
I looked back over my 35+ years of corporate experience and every leadership position I have held and have come up with these five traits that, when all else failed, helped get the leadership job done each time:
• Listening - one of the most important standards I set for any team I lead was that it was
impossible for them to “over-communicate” with me. I found that when my team could see that I was genuinely interested in what they had to say, the quality of their communications improved.
• Being in the game 100% of the time - wherever I was, regardless of the topic or situation,
I was there 100% or as some would say, “I was in the present”. Nothing would distract me from the task at hand. Some would say “Come on Chris, get real! All leaders have lots on their mind”. That’s true but multi tasking at the wrong time can be “multi dumb”! Missing one key element in a situation could prove to be a disastrous surprise later on. And guess who would be responsible for it? You!
• Preparation - this is the simplest of all leadership traits to develop, yet it is the one that
most “would be” leaders fail to properly address. The ability to prepare is one of the most important habits you can develop, nurture and maintain. You would be amazed at how simple things become when you take the time to prepare for what needs to be done.
• Have an open mind - I found that I was most effective when I would try to identify othe
elevant options. It was my job to choose the right option or course. To do that, I had to keep an open mind to all of the factors involved, some of which I initially might not be aware of. By keeping an open mind, I was also able to be effective in another key leadership role – staying ahead of other potential problems. By looking at the options, I could see which might cause other issues down the road. This at least gave me a chance to develop a plan to deal with these if I took that particular path.
• Challenge the team – my very first business mentor had the unique ability through
eflective questions, to challenge me to find the answers on my own. When I was stumped, he challenged me to identify the resources that would help me keep moving forward. To this day, I believe that his leadership approach to me – to challenge me to be better – laid the foundation for many of the successes I experienced in my career. He was always there to help me or guide me but, most importantly, he helped me learn the real measure of my full capabilities. A quote that I recently came across says it best “Leadership involves inspiring others to be greater than they believe they can be; to help them see how they can exceed their own self-expectations”.
So, what should you do now? Simple…conduct your own self examination to evaluate how well you are leading your team. Ask yourself how well you stack up against these 5 points. Need help, just call or e-mail me.
Chris Ruisi is an experienced executive/business coach as well as accomplished leadership/business motivational speaker. To learn more about Chris visit http://www.TheCoachszone.com
or email Chris at Chris@TheCoachsZone.com.