Have you ever wondered what separates average managers from good leaders? It's not raw, natural talent. No, its something much more straightforward, and the answer lies in two simple words you and everyone else has control over, work and effort.
There is a fundamental truth around leadership from all of my research and interviews that’s important both you and I not only understand but believe in our core. You become the leader you construct.
Only you have control over your development as a leader, and you have to take ownership of it.
To ensure we are on the same page, we must level set on what I mean by leadership. I define it in Building the Best as: “Inspiring, empowering, and serving in order to elevate others over an extended period of time.”
Leading like this requires the combination of a series of skills working together. The list isn’t short but here are a few of them:
- Trust (relationship-building)
Many individual skills in leadership are essential for you to develop. But much like the game of golf, some skills are more important than the others. If you are going to go from an average manager to a good leader, these are the ones you need to work on mastering first.
The ability to lead a team starts with good, quality, professional relationships, built on the bond of mutual trust. All effective leaders consistently share their competence and the care they have for their people in order for trust to grow.
The simplest and most effective way to understand precisely how trust is built comes from Reid Hoffman: Trust = Consistency + Time
When you break down the simple formula, it makes so much sense. Regardless of how long you have been leading other people, we can all relate to building trust with someone in our lives. Trust is the foundation every relationship is built upon, and it’s created by consistency over time. This means you have to do what you say you are going to do, day in and day out.
Pro Tip- All leaders are challenged to overcome different biases to have better trust-filled relationships across their team. However, our instinct as human beings is to gravitate toward and trust people who look, act, and behave like us. If you want better trust-filled relationships, look beyond commonalities.
Reward, Recognize and Appreciate
One of the most critical skills for leaders to develop today is giving praise. Praise encompasses rewarding, recognizing, and showing authentic appreciation for people both in what they produce and who they are.
It’s important to note that appreciation is different from recognition. Recognition is about the results someone produces.
Tom Peters famously said, “Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Peters is correct, but recognition is based on a person’s performance. (which is essential and you should reward how they do it) Appreciation is much bigger; it’s about who someone is versus what they produce. It means, “recognizing the value of.”
There was a study done at the University of Berkley about what motivates productivity. What they found was astonishing. When people felt recognized for the work they did, they were 23% more effective and productive versus when they didn’t. But when people felt valued and cared for, they were 43% more productive and effective versus than people who didn’t. That’s a 20% improvement when people know they’re appreciated.
It’s your job as a leader to master the skills related to praise. Not only when to give it, but how to do it, so it means something to person on the receiving end.
Accountability Through Conversations
Many words make most people uncomfortable, and accountability is one of those words. Before understanding exactly what accountability was and why it was so crucial for leaders to understand, I felt the same way. Accountability is the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. The keyword here is an obligation. ”Great leaders understand it’s their obligation to have uncomfortable conversations.”
Much like praise, part of your job as a leader is to master the art of having direct dialogues with people that help them improve and motivate them towards movement. A great question to ask yourself, “Do I have a go-to conversation model I know like the back of my hand?”
Next week, I am going to cover the following three most important skills; coaching, listening, and curiosity. Tell me what you think in the comments.