Listen, there are LOTS of things that great leaders do. But lately, I’m reminded of just 3 that can make a HUGE difference and have a POSITIVE impact on the people around you, and therefore the results of your team:
1. LISTEN – A LOT. If you’re not listening, you’re not learning. You learn things from the people around you. You can’t understand if you’re not listening. And ultimately, you can’t ask good questions if you’re not listening and learning. You need to ask questions that add value, not just ask “figure-head questions”. Nobody appreciates that and you can’t possibly get real satisfaction out of asking non-value add questions. It’s fake and everybody knows it.
2. GIVE OTHER PEOPLE THE STAGE. Sure, you’re the senior leader and there are many times you need to be front and center – communicating the strategy, taking accountability and/or recognizing the good work of others. Also, as a leader, one of your top jobs is preparing the next generation of leaders to take your place. Beyond passing along subject matter expertise, you need to find opportunities to put your successor candidates in front of others, and therefore, in front of you. It could be a presentation that you would typically deliver, bringing them along to a senior leadership meeting that normally only you would attend, or having them give your boss an update personally, rather than passing the information through you. Developing leaders need the opportunities to practice being in the front row, and at the table, BEFORE they are actually placed there permanently.
3. FIND OPPORTUNITIES TO ADMIT MISTAKES. I know, this one is tough. As successful leaders, we’re not actually supposed to make mistakes, right? WRONG. We talk all the time about the importance of risk-taking. But in reality, many of us don’t practice it, because of the fear of making a mistake. I’m sorry folks, but it is simple math. The more times you take a risk, the more times you will make a mistake. If you are a successful leader, you have already made a number of mistakes – and LEARNED from them. And of course, you did something different the next time. And that’s exactly the point! We need to teach the people we’re leading that it’s going to happen and that it’s ok, as long as we learn something from it. Making mistakes is part of the learning process. If you’re not messing up once in a while, you’re not getting better!