By Allison Babb
After extensively researching ten thousand leaders and fifty thousand staff members, the authors of the book The Leadership Challenge uncovered 5 principles for how leaders get extraordinary things accomplished in organizations across the globe.
While in my senior management roles, I read The Leadership Challenge book and also attended their leadership training. I embraced these principles whole-heartedly. These five leadership principles are by far some of the most powerful yet simple ways to excel as leaders. And if you are an aspiring leader, this is a great place to start–the authors embrace the reality that, in organizations, leadership is everyone’s business. Do you live out these five leadership principles? Read on to find out…
1: Challenge the Process
Leaders tend to challenge the norm and with challenging they innovate. They are willing to step out and take risks to find new and better ways to do things. A good question to ask is what norms are you living with and how can you challenge yourself and your staff to innovate their way to new and better ways to work and accomplish goals. And mistakes along the way are simply learning opportunities through which you can innovate even further. What’s one status-quo in your organization that can benefit from you or your staff challenging the process?
2: Inspire a Shared Vision
Successful leaders possess the ability to inspire others and get them excited about how things can change, the way things can be and the path to getting there. First, leaders must be personally passionate about those possibilities. Also, leaders must know their people well enough to connect with their interests when sharing the leader’s vision for the future.
People act when they believe that their leaders understand them and have their best interest at heart. Consider where it may be a challenge to get your staff on board with a new task or initiative. How well do you know your staff? Do you know them well enough to enlist their support by connecting your vision with their interests? As The Leadership Challenge suggests, “leadership is a dialogue, not a monologue.”
3: Enable Others to Act
It probably goes without saying that leadership is a team effort. The book suggests that a simple test for detecting if someone is on the road to true leadership is in the frequency of the use of word “we.” Leaders do not hoard power; they give it away. People feel a strong sense of ownership when they are included. Is your language as a leader fostering teamwork? In what ways can you make your staff feel more enabled? Effective leaders make people feel strong and capable and they provide the training where needed to enable their staff to act.
4: Model the Way
Modeling the way begins with first becoming aware of our own values and beliefs so that we can then stand up for them. Leaders model the way through personal example and not through eloquent speeches. They model the way through simple daily acts and they are willing to do what they are asking their staff to do. As a leader, consider how clear you are about your values, principles, and beliefs and how consistently those values are lived out as a model to your staff. What are some small ways in which you can model the way for your organization?
5: Encourage the Heart
Let’s face it, work can sometimes be challenging. People in our organizations can become frustrated and sometimes discouraged. Leaders who display genuine acts of caring inspire their staff to carry on. They do this through group celebrations and individual recognition. We often underestimate the value of a personal handwritten thank-you note for example. And we sometimes get so busy meeting one milestone after another that we forget to stop and celebrate the accomplishment.
I was privileged to be interviewed by the authors of the book Encouraging the Heart for the ways in which I implemented this principle in my role as a senior manager. I’ve learned that celebration of successes (small or large, individual or group) is perhaps one of the greater missed opportunities that leaders encounter. Take a closer look at what is getting accomplished in your organization and celebrate them! Who in your organization has gone above and beyond or where have your teams accomplished key milestones. In what way can you give them some well-deserved recognition and encourage the heart….today?
Allison Babb is author, speaker, trainer, and leadership coach who teaches leaders at all levels 3 secrets to becoming a top manager in their company. Allison has combined her degree in Business Administration, over 15 years of senior management experience and the art of professional coaching to deliver truly masterful leadership coaching and training to managers at all levels.
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