Last time we thought about how great leaders have a passionate and consistent desire to make things better, not just different. How does that become reality?We have all heard and probably agree with the sentiment, “What got you here won’t get you there.” But we have to take definitive action, or knowing that will make little difference. The challenges that await you in 2017 will be different than in 2016. To be an effective leader, you must understand your skill set – where you are strong, where you are weak, and what you need to sharpen – in order to become the best leader you can be.There are core areas where capable leaders have to be reasonably capable. The great leaders work to excel in every area they can, and to humbly bring alongside themselves leaders who can do what they cannot. Here are a few areas I have found in my experience to be central to leadership. Failure and success usually cycle around how well these are mastered, and predict outcomes very reliably.
Developing Trust. Stephen Covey, in his book The Speed of Trust, details how trust, and the speed at which it is developed, determines how far and fast a company and a leader can go. This is a great place to start in discovering what you might improve in order to make a healthier level of trust in your organization.
Managing Conflict. There are many books and podcasts on leading through conflict. One of the best is Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone. Conflict can destroy you and your team, or you can learn and grow stronger through difficulty. Maybe you need to start here.
Delegating. Low levels of success are often tied to an inability to let go and let others lead with you. Again, there is so much help available. Brian Tracy’s Delegation and Supervision is helpful, as well as The Busy Manager’s Guide to Delegation, by Richard A. Luecke and Perry McIntosh.
Building Teams. This is an advanced area, far better than simple delegation. An effective leader multiples himself/herself and makes everything better by building teams. They will do far better than the leader could. Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and John Maxwell’s The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, have been extremely helpful to me in developing this skill.
Casting Vision. Andy Stanley’s book, Making Vision Stick, is really helpful in developing and sharing a motivating vision. Your team can’t move forward unless they see where they are headed and why it is important.
Executing. The gap between a great idea and actually seeing it happen, the chasm between vision and reality often becomes insurmountable. Execution is the key. The Strategy of Execution: A 5-Step Plan for Turning Vision into Action, by Liz Mellon is one of many good places to start. Just start.
Communicating. If no one is really hearing you, it doesn’t matter how great your ideas and heart are. Your strategy can be superb, but if no one gets it you never get out of the gates. John Maxwell’s book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, is a basic primer that can get you started on sharpening your skills.
Of course, these are just a few of the core, basic areas that need attention if great leadership is your goal. No one can master them all, but everyone can improve. Make 2017 a year of significant growth in the areas you see are lacking, and see what happens this year in your leadership, and in your followers.