6 Simple Strategies to Help You Lead Smart
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”—Eleanor Roosevelt
Those few words speak volumes when it comes to successful personal relationships. But you may be surprised how effectively the same advice applies to smart organizational leadership.
You’ve no doubt heard it said customer service management would be a breeze if it weren’t for all the customers. Well, the same premise holds true for the inherent friction between leadership and the people being led. Personalities create leadership challenges, to say the least.
Employee behavior and style differences make it hard to find common threads of motivation and inspiration that work across all team members.
That’s why successful leaders have to offer more than experience and expertise. While I’m not suggesting group hugs will make everything ok, a personalized and genuinely caring approach to leadership increases the chances for excellent results.
Jason Young, author, speaker, and president of LeadSmart, Inc., trains organizations in developing what he terms culturetopia – defined as a place of both high performance and high fulfillment. Young is passionate about helping leaders discover their own culturetopia so they’re equipped to engage and pull team members into that space with them. Much of the difference between ineffective and brilliant leadership begins with honing relational skills that bring out the best in others:
- Develop an understanding of and patience with varying approaches to decision-making, work style, communication methods, re-energizing needs, and emotional hot buttons.
- Based on Janet Elsea’s book “The 4-Minute Sell”, know the direct impact of your facial expressions, eye contact, and body movement on the people you lead.
- Gestures, tone, and words are powerful tools for sending and receiving emotions, with ability to create a positive or negative work environment.
Consider these six leadership best practices that set world-class organizations apart from their competition:
1. Clearly Define Expectations
What you expect from employees shouldn’t be a carefully guarded secret. Be transparent in this area, give clear direction, and get feedback to make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Get People Using Their Talents and Strengths
Research in the early 90s by Don Clifton, dubbed the “grandfather of positive psychology”, proved what leaders continue to see in the workforce today: people not only do a better job when using their natural talents and strengths; when given the chance, they’ll enhance those skills at far greater speeds than they learn news ones. That’s not to say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, but leaders should identify and make the most of employee strengths.
3. Give Frequent Recognition and Praise
Excellence isn’t easy. Actively encourage a desire to strive for it. Not every recognition has to be a big prize package. (Although a weekend at an exotic resort probably won’t hurt morale.) Some employees respond to a public pat on the pack, while others prefer a personal note they can keep to treasure on a tough day. But everybody wants to know they’re appreciated.
4. Use Conflict to Build Relationships
Humans are involved, so there will be conflict. As a leader, recognize that your role in resolution may differ for each situation—from assertive to accommodating. Knowing options and how to best use them will guide others and build a strong foundation for working relationships.
5. Show Care and Concern for Everyone
Simple kindness goes a long way in any relationship. Why should it be any different within your team? Enough said.
6. Provide Tools and Training to Ensure Success
Beyond behavior that inspires and encourages, leaders must provide tools, along with training on how to use them effectively, to strengthen the skill sets of their employees and enable their best possible work.
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