It’s a new year. I believe your leadership this year can and will make a significant difference on the teams you lead, in the organization you serve, in the community you live, and in the world we share. You are smart, motivated, and full of fresh, new ideas: these are all important attributes that will contribute to your greatness. And now, it’s time to get outside of your comfort zone. Your followers and I need you to step up your game. As your executive coach, I encourage you to create a plan to master five key leadership fundamentals in 2017: leadership presence, communicating clearly, leadership agility, building teams, and driving performance.
Leadership presence is about looking inside yourself, deciding who you want to be as a leader, and having a clear vision of how you will get there. Think about the leaders who have made a positive difference in your personal life and professional career. What characteristics do they possess that you would like to emulate? Are they good at handling conflict? Do they encourage you to think bigger? Are they able to connect with people? Whatever it is, create a list of 10 characteristics and start incorporating them today. Don’t wait for someone to tell you who you should be. You decide right here, right now, what defines your leadership greatness, and do it.
Next, in order to communicate clearly, don’t be a good listener; be a great listener. Practice asking open-ended questions understand in a deeper way what people are communicating, and to help them come up with their own solutions to a challenge. It’s your responsibility as a leader to make those around you shine—they won’t shine if you do all the solving.
The next fundamental is leadership agility. Under-managing and over-managing leadership styles are both ineffective. The most-effective leaders are able to use varying degrees of directive and supportive behavior, based on the circumstance. Imagine PGA star golfer Jason Day using only one golf club during a round in a tournament — it’s not a good strategy if you’re in it to win. And it’s definitely not a goad strategy if you want to inspire your team to perform at high levels. You need to recognize the different styles, priorities, abilities, and varying degrees of enthusiasm of those you lead. Being agile in your leadership is crucial to both your and your direct reports’ success.
The fourth fundamental you will want to master this year is building a team that performs highly. The time that managers and employees spend collaborating has increased by 50 percent in recent years. Studies show that groups innovate , see mistakes more quickly, and find better solutions to problems. Teams also tend to achieve better results and report higher job satisfaction. Focus on building a team where members trust each other and can speak openly about their ideas and opinions. Do this, and you will succeed faster.
Lastly, get focused on driving performance. Great leaders are especially attuned to their people, and what’s needed to generate improved performance. Driving performance starts with giving honest, clear, and timely feedback. If your direct report is surprised by feedback you provide during an annual performance review, you have failed. Give constructive feedback, both positive and in areas that need improvement, on an ongoing basis. This ensures that people keep doing what’s working, and have ample time to make the necessary adjustments to fill gaps in performance These are the five keys to your success this year having a clear vision of who you want to be as a leader, being a great communicator and a great listener, being an agile leader, adapting based on the commitment and motivation of those you are leading; building a high-performing team; and focusing on driving performance by giving both positive and constructive feedback You are an emerging leader; commit this year to emerge.
Cindy Masingill is a partner with Emergent, a leadership training and professional coaching company based in Baldwinsville. Contact her at Cindy@GetEmergentcom
Originally appeared in Central New York Business Journal February 13th 2017