Leaders often don’t realize that your Leadership is a Performance and you are under the spotlight 24/7. There are little opportunities for mistakes. Your credibility is built or lost in moments, where you are exercising your emotional intelligence or not.
The critics or your followers are demanding and have high expectations for you.
In each situation they are initially giving you the benefit of the doubt, that:
- You spent time thinking about this situation.
- You know exactly what you want.
- There is a clear purpose in all of your communications and actions.
- You know what they can do or not do to add value.
- You have all the answers.
These inferences are based on what you say, your behavior, and your non-verbals. As leaders, we know that many of these assumptions are false, but these are the expectations of your followers as they are listening to you, at least initially. If these expectations are not met, then the opposite of these inferences are made quickly and then validated and revalidated.
- You don’t know what you are doing.
- You don’t have the answers.
- You don’t think anyone has any value.
- You are not clear about where you, the team, or the organization is going.
- You are not a leader who is credible and respected.
If you understand what a tight rope walk your leadership is and what a fall can cost you would you practice and learn the moves better? Sure you would.
Leadership is a Dance:
There are special steps to the leadership dance but often they are not taught in organizations, business schools or graduate school. There is a process to leadership, just like the other processes in your organization the sale process, manufacturing process, quality assurance process. These are basic skills that leaders do every day without a definite process:
In order to understand and define the most critical components of effective leadership, The Blanchard Companies launched a study in 2006, in which more than 1,400 leaders, managers, and executives shared their views on the critical skills and common mistakes connected to leadership. They found the top three things leaders admitted they fail to do are:
1. 82% of respondents stated failing to provide appropriate feedback (praise, redirection)
2. 81% said failing to listen to or involve others in the process
3. 76% said failing to use a leadership style that is appropriate to the person task, and situation (oversupervising or undersupervising)
Most leaders do what one of their bosses have done with them, sometimes successful sometimes not or they wing it. What business processes do you just do without clear steps or a process. Leadership has it’s own beat and rhythm.
We know in any new skill like golf, tennis or dance first you have to learn the right moves or steps and then you need to practice it over and over.
Delegation, giving feedback, coaching, managing up and across, decision making and getting buy-in all have specific steps that leaders can learn.
In my work as an Executive Coach and Corporate trainer I usually ask people how often do they delegate in a day? Most say about 5-7 times a day. Then I ask l how about feedback to their employee and they say 4-5 times a day. Two critical skills, leaders and managers do daily and most don’t have any established system or process. So what are the steps on the floor to follow.
I have put together critical skills that you do daily and given you a step by step proven process on how to do it with a “following the bouncing ball process.”
The Leadership Keys and Leadership Keys iPhone App with videos answer the following questions:
- How do you decide when you are in and out with your direction?
- How do you hold accountabilities?
- What is the best way to give feedback?
- How can be very clear in your delegation?
- How do you coach, empower and when do you give advice?
- What is a best practice for making decisions and getting buy-in?
- How can you manage up and across?
As a leader you need to have a process and clear steps to answer the above questions. Then it is practice practice practice until these steps become second nature, fluid and focused.
For more tips, download my iPhone App.
Dr. Nadler is the founder of True North Leadership, Inc. and Executive and Organizational development firm. He was educated as a clinical psychologist, has become a world-class executive coach, leadership and team trainer. A licensed psychologist and Master Executive Coach, Dr. Nadler has been working for more than 30 years with top executives and their teams to become "star performers." He is the author of two best-selling leadership and team performance books, and is a sought-after speaker and consultant on leadership, teambuilding, executive coaching, emotional intelligence and experiential learning.