Five Days of Leading
“Live by the steps of your feet and not by the words of your mouth.” – Unknown
There are many books out there about leadership and leading. There are classes, programs, articles, workshops, websites, and companies that specialize in leadership training. They all provide good information but like anything else, it’s what you do with the information that counts.
There is no magic bean that will turn you into a good leader. There is no 10-step process to better leadership unless you put into practice what you learn. We’ve all been to classes and workshops where we take in the information, write copious notes, and talk about how we are going to implement these valuable lessons once we return to work. And then what happens? We try for a few days or even weeks, but we find that the situations mentioned in class are different from real life. Or we find that it’s difficult and time-consuming to implement what was learned in class and eventually we put our nice binder and certificate on the bookshelf in our offices.
I believe one of the reasons why we fail to implement what we’ve learned is because we try and do it all at once. When we learn the ten things that will make us better leaders, we try to implement all ten things even if they don’t fit or make sense in our particular situation. You can’t become a better leader overnight but you can start to become a better leader within a week.
Here is a five-day program with five practical ways to start your personal leadership program. It’s called, Five Days of Leading and it consists of the following:
Monday (Motivate) — I’m not talking about giving a motivational speech to your employees. I’m not talking about implementing a dress-down Friday, or work-at-home Monday, or bring-your-kids-to-work day. I’m talking about identifying what motivates your employees. Motivation describes why we do what we do. People are motivated by six different things and their top two motivators will drive their behavior. Behavior describes how we do what we do (for more information on how to identify behavior and motivators, go to www.whiterockbusiness.net/our-services/staff-development).
Motivated people work harder, care more, and want to stay with their current companies. This is important to you as a leader and to your employees. Think about this — if you put someone in your Customer Care department, would you want them to be motivated by helping people or making money? Would you rather have someone in your engineering department who is motivated by learning new things or the harmony of the world around them?
Find out what motivates your employees, ensure that their jobs fit with their motivation, and you will have taken the first step to becoming a better leader.
Tuesday (Talk to your managers) — Good leaders are good listeners. Good leaders know that they don’t know everything so they seek the advice of others. You are managing your managers, but they are managing the people in the trenches.
Learn about your managers. Learn about how they communicate. Learn about ways to best manage them. Learn about the way they give and take information. Learn about their behavior styles. Learn about their competencies. Learn about their ideas for improvement. Learn about their problems, issues, challenges. Learn about their families, hobbies, outside activities. Meet with them as a team but also individually.
The more you learn about your managers, the more they learn about you. Listen and learn and you will have taken the second step to becoming a better leader.
Wednesday (Walk around) — You know the old saying that you can learn a lot by observing. You can’t observe and thus can’t learn unless you get out of your office. You can’t get complete information unless you see it for yourself.
We are all busy, but there is such value in walking around the office, the plant floor, and the different buildings in the complex. However, there is a difference between walking around and conversing with people. There’s a difference between wanting to be seen by everyone and wanting to see everyone. You are walking around because you want to learn about the people you are leading. You want to know what they do and how they do it. You want to see what their workspaces look like. You want to know what they think and what ideas they may have to improve their work processes.
Walk around and show people that you care about them and you will have taken the third step to becoming a better leader.
Thursday (Teach) — You will learn a lot by observing. You will learn a lot by conversing with your managers. But, you are where you are because of your experience, education, skills, and competencies and the best way to lead is to share that with your leaders of tomorrow. When you become more of a mentor and a coach, you help others get better at their jobs. You want to raise their level of expertise. You want to challenge them more so that they will gain experience and skill.
The outcome is that you gain respect from those you teach. You mentor others to be able to take leadership roles. You are able to delegate more and handhold less. You build trust and camaraderie. You retain your workforce.
Share your wisdom and you will have taken the fourth step to becoming a better leader.
Friday (Find someone to reward) — Many managers and so-called leaders spend a lot of time finding things that people are doing wrong so that they can discipline them, and far less time discovering what people are doing right and rewarding them. People will make mistakes. They’re human. Accept the fact that people make mistakes and implement changes to avoid them in the future.
Spend more time recognizing and rewarding people for the things that they do right. Reward them for the service they provide, the times they go above and beyond, the outside-of-the-box thinking they do every day, the processes they improve, the extra effort they give, and the things that they do outside of their job descriptions. Make a point and an effort to do this. Set up a program. Ensure your managers look for opportunities to recognize and reward. People appreciate recognition. You may be surprised what a simple “thank you” can do for someone’s self-esteem.
Show people how much they are appreciated and you will have taken the fifth step to becoming a better leader.
Want to be a better leader? There’s a new week coming up and here are five days of suggestions to help you.
About the Author — Ron Feher is the Chief Improvement Officer at WhiteRock Business Solutions whose mission is to help make small businesses better. He concentrates on the people aspects of business through his Executive Coaching and Manager Mentoring Programs, Job Benchmarking, Staff Development, and meeting facilitation and motivational speaking. Ron is a certified professional analyst with TTI Success Insights®. He utilizes their assessments to help hire and retain top talent and improve team effectiveness and efficiency. Ron does Career Coaching as an outreach (#givingback) and is a certified consultant through Career Direct. WhiteRock is located in Orange County, California and can be found at www.whiterockbusiness.net; or contact Ron directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (949-466-0943). @RonFeher