Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! In today’s episode, Jeff is giving you a look at the conversations he is currently having with his coaching clients. Jeff works with a variety of clients, but the advice he gives can be applied across industries and positions. Today, he has pulled together eight leadership keys that you can implement into your personal leadership strategy. Remember, elite leadership is not a destination—it’s a journey that you need to invest in every day.
Execution trumps strategy.
When implementing a new system or strategy, urgency wins over perfection every time. Don’t allow perfection to kill your state of readiness. I believe that implementing an imperfect plan is better than delaying a perfect plan. You can always fill in the gaps on the fly. This is especially true for small business leaders who have the advantage of being nimble and making decisions fast.
Q: Describe the last system you implemented. Do you think that you delayed implementing your strategy too long? Or do you think that you needed to think through your strategy longer? Why?
2. You are always being watched.
As a leader, you have impact and influence even when you don’t think anyone notices or cares about what you are doing. This is especially true when you are outside of the office at an award ceremony, holiday dinner, or other event. Many leaders make the mistake of letting their guard down in those situations, but what you think is casual can have a career-long impact on your team and even your reputation. Don’t underestimate your power to influence. People are watching how you interact and engage with others, both verbally and non-verbally.
Q: Have you ever seen a leader act out of character at a social event? How did it impact your view of them? Did anything help restore their reputation?
3. Don’t assume that people heard your instructions or that they will act on them.
Your people will always create their own interpretation of what you said or meant. You can only know that you are effectively communicating when your team members can correctly repeat your message back to you and act on it. Don’t assume that “anybody” could understand the simple message. Assume that they don’t. Help your team member gain clarity by asking open-ended questions like, “What are your thoughts?” or “How will you go about executing this?”
Q: How else can you make sure your team understands and executes your instructions? How can you make sure that you do not micromanage the process?
4. Servant leadership is the most effective way to lead a professional team.
Every leader’s priority should be to serve their people, not the other way around. When you do, your employees feel valued and know you are looking out for them. Part of being a servant leader is listening to your team and looking for ways to meet their needs. Employees with high morale will work enthusiastically and provide excellent customer service.
Q: What do you think is the difference between working for a leader who wants to serve their employees and one who does not? In your experience, which did you prefer? How did their approach impact your productivity and morale?
5. Set Clear Expectations
You can only hold people accountable if they know what to expect. Create clear policies that your employees can reference when you are not around, and hold yourself to the same standards.
Q: What is one expectation you think is most crucial to your job? What helped you understand that expectation?
6. Don’t expect what you don’t inspect.
Great leaders are curious and ask lots of questions. The more you probe, the more you know that you are getting what you asked for. This type of leadership behavior will build a culture of follow-through in your business.
Q: What is the difference between inspecting and micromanaging? Is there ever a situation when you think you should micromanage? Why or why not?
7. A huge difference between good and great leaders is their ability to think strategically instead of simply following a process.
High-impact leaders have one foot in the future and can anticipate how today’s decisions will affect the future. Leaders who live entirely in the present are valuable, but they are not your future senior leaders. If your goal is to elevate your leadership influence, you need to become a strategic leader. Leaders who think with the future in mind have these qualities:
They are curious.
They ask great questions.
They stay in tune with current events and buying trends.
They are students of history. Past events are predictors of future outcomes.
Q: What other qualities do strategic leaders have? Which of these do you think you currently have? Why?
8. Take the time to craft the values that are important to your organization, and then hire and develop your team to share those values.
In short, you hire culture and train skill. Hiring is the biggest area of opportunity that I am seeing in our current climate. You should have a diverse team, but they must be aligned to your values. By establishing your values, you determine the future of your organization. These become the guiding principles for your company.
Q: What values are most important in your company? Have you ever worked with someone who did not hold those values? How did it impact your performance and/or morale?
Did any of these tips stand out to you? If you are looking for more information, challenge yourself to find another book or podcast on that topic and listen to it this week. Better yet, look into a leadership coach who can help walk you through your unique situation. If this appeals to you, check out my group and one-on-one coaching programs here.
Think about some people who exemplify the culture that you want your team to have. Which of their characteristics or habits stand out to you? Did they have these qualities when they were hired, or did they arrive over time? Use these answers to determine what employee development programs you might need to adjust and what hiring practices may need to be modified.
In this episode, you got an inside look at the kinds of problems Jeff troubleshoots with his coaching clients. Do you have a mentor you work with? Consider the last time you had a mentor who spent dedicated, one-on-one time working with you on your leadership challenges. If you feel like there is a gap, check out www.thechampionforum.com/groups to see if one of our leadership programs might fill your needs.