Last week I officially launched my new business to a large group of family, friends and colleagues. My intention was to share my purpose and plans for providing focused leadership development and more specifically, my desire to build a community of awesome leaders.
It was also a time to celebrate. Make good on a dream. Move towards a new chapter in life.
And as always, there were flipcharts. And wine. But back to the flipcharts. Ah the beautiful blank canvas, ready to capture thoughts. And I asked for them. Did I mention there were also cupcakes?
Two questions. So easy.
What is the most important leadership characteristic from your perspective? Heavy? Not for this crowd! And secondly, if you could give one piece of advice to a new leader, what would it be?
First, leadership characteristics. I loved the variety of perspectives, from the post it notes on Get Shit Done, and more specifically Get Strategic Shit Done (or the more eloquent but consistent, Execute with Excellence!).
To the inspiring qualities such as grace, trust, open mindedness, humility, kindness, authenticity. These resonate and also highlight the importance of the quality of the relationship of the leader to the follower—the absence of which is always noticed and strongly felt.
And perhaps not so surprisingly, there were so so so many comments about communication. By far, this was the majority of post its both in the category of characteristics and advice.
Seriously, do we even need to say that? So basic. Core. Fundamental. A prerequisite to leadership, is it not?
But according to an Interact survey, conducted online by Harris Poll. A whopping 69% of managers said that they’re often uncomfortable communicating with employees. And a third, 37%, said they’re uncomfortable having to give direct feedback to their employees.
Say what?! This just hurts. My. Heart.
There are just so many reasons to communicate, and so many implications to the absence of communication.
- Clarifying expectations
- Discussing a current goal
- Setting a new goal
- Reviewing a project/process/practice
- Follow up on a recent learning experience
- Cascading organizational information
- Giving praise, kudos, thank you, expressing gratitude, recognition
- Questions: How ya doing? What are your biggest challenges right now? What resources would make your job easier? How can I better support you? How are your kids/parents/pets/hips? What are your ideas on xyz? Can you help me solve this problem? What are your aspirations?
I know you could add a billion more to this list. And that is the point. There are so many opportunities to communicate. What’s holding managers back? Please share your thoughts!
So back to the charts. Flipchart #2, the advice to a new leader? Here’s a snapshot:
• remember your job includes serving your staff as well as your customer and organization (um yes, see Harris Poll stats above)
• keep your sense of humor
• don’t take yourself too seriously
• believe in your team
• be clear in setting realistic goals and expectations (yes as this is one of the most common reasons for performance issues!)
• find a good mentor
• seek first to understand, then to be understood
• learn your people—do not listen to gossip
• spend time with Cyndi 😊 (haahahaa, thanks for that, was that my mom’s writing?!)
• some rules can be broken (I would bet $ that this was my little sister!)
• learn to give quality feedback (AGAIN see Harris Poll stats above)
• recognize your employees’’ strengths and support and empower them to use and develop those strengths
• spend time understanding the work people under you do
• learn what motivates each person
• tailor/target your message
• be a creative problem solver
• leading by example does not work (I’ll explain this one in an upcoming post)
• do the Wonder Woman pose when you need confidence! (see Amy Cuddy’s amazing work!)
• and so many more………….
Such great ideas from some amazing leaders.
For all that joined me in this launch, I thank you for your support. Many of you were there in spirit, sending notes and congrats. I am grateful to each of you. Thank you for your love and inspiration.
And now, it’s back to work. I’ve got a target audience of 69% of managers to talk to….