If only it were that easy to lead, that we could break it down into five simple steps. The world is much more complex. People are complicated; situations are multi-layered; and options abound. If only it were that simple.
In some ways it is.
The world is complex and people are multi-layered and complicated, but there are five simple first steps you can take to strengthen your leadership. As a client said to us many years ago, they’re simple but they’re not necessarily easy.
- Know where you want to go – If you’re leading, you need to be leading towards somewhere, but often life gets so non-stop busy that we don’t take the time to stop and think about what direction we want to be heading in, and where we need our organization to go. We always advise our clients to take the time to think things through and plan, and then move forward intentionally and Thoughtfully.
- Don’t do it alone – Effective leaders get input from others. They build a strong team; they have a reliable group of mentors; they surround themselves with experts. The final decision of where and when and how may be yours and yours alone as the leader, but leadership doesn’t have to be completely lonely at the top. Find people you trust and enjoy and build out your understanding and knowledge through their knowledge.
- Let others know what you’re thinking – And then let them into your mind. So often we have to remind our clients that their team, their organization, doesn’t know exactly what they’re thinking and why. It’s so clear to them what’s in their mind that they forget others don’t know what they’re thinking. Great leaders share their thoughts and plans, so that others can get behind and with them.
- Tell the story in a way others can understand – Not only do the people around you need to know what you’re thinking, they need to believe in it (and you) and be inspired by it (and you). Effective leaders explain their vision and their plans in ways that excites the people around them, and in language and examples that others can understand.
- Be human; be real; keep going – An essential part of effective leadership is being willing and able to admit your humanness…and to keep going. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we forget things. Sometimes we react too strongly, or not strongly enough. If you pretend that you’re infallible, or that your actions are never misaligned or misconstrued, you run the risk of losing credibility. No one can never make mistakes. When you err or implode, admit it, apologize for it if necessary, and move on. Keep going towards the vision.
Leadership is much more complex than five simple steps. However, these five simple steps can take you a long way towards being more effective.
What’s your most important leadership behavior?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.
For support in leading at your best, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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