You just finished your umpteenth leadership book, and you want to hurl it across the room.
The advice isn’t bad, in fact, it’s flawless. You absolutely get what you have to do.
You’re supposed to serve the people you lead. Even love them, celebrate with them, and mourn with them.
Remember what they share about their personal lives. Listen deeply to them.
Show them you set high standards and expect at least as much from yourself as you do from them.
When witless policies and procedures threaten to demotivate your team, you should absorb the shock so they can get on with their excellent work.
Yeah, you get what you should do. What’s missing is how to become such a leader.
Follow these tips to become a leader, who talented people, will knock down doors to work for.
1. Prepare Yourself To Lead
You’re there to serve the people you lead, so it’s not really all about you.
Paradoxically, you can’t wholeheartedly serve them unless you’ve prepared yourself. And not by taking another class or workshop.
Instead, establish a regular contemplative practice.
Set aside a quiet, peaceful corner in your home, and start your day with meditation.
As you calm down, you’ll be more present to yourself and others, which will support your team’s well-being.
You’ll also have more energy to ride smoothly through your workplace chaos.
Next, try these tips to polish your leadership qualities:
- Accept that being a leader means you’ll be regularly interrupted, so you’ll need to shift seamlessly between fine-pointed concentration and more expansive awareness.
- Use the power of your calendar to set and stick to a schedule so your work doesn’t constantly spill over into your personal life.
- Get and preserve clarity about your business priorities. While this sounds like a no-brainer, you can lose track of them easily when work gets frantic.
Leadership is a tough gig and needs the same dedicated approach to excellence as any other demanding profession.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. ” – John Maxwell
2. Regularly Replenish Your Leadership Reserves
No matter how well you prepare yourself, you know how it goes when you’re in a leadership role.
You’re often on the run, and time flashes by.
Suddenly, you snap the head off the next person who strolls into your office.
You regret their shocked expression as they back away slowly. Surely they’ll forgive you.
You scrabble through your desk drawers for that stash of chocolate you’re certain you hadn’t yet finished. “Please, God, let there be at least a bite left!”
Then all you want to do is put your head down on your desk for just one minute and, bam! For the next few minutes, you’re lights out.
Not so fun, right?
To keep yourself in top leadership form, do the following throughout your workday to “sharpen the saw,” as Stephen Covey put it:
- Pause for a few minutes, especially when everything’s frantic. Lean back in your chair and dial down your brain. Close your eyes, put up your feet, and cross your arms behind your head. But tell your boss and team what you’re doing so they don’t think you’re slacking off! Encourage them to do the same.
- Build personal time into your calendar, 15 minutes here and there, especially right after an event that you know drains your energy. Mark the time private. Go for a walk, shut your door, and do some jumping jacks or yoga stretches. Get your body moving and rejuvenate your mind at the same time.
- Honor your intuition. Bring it into the mix of factors you consider when making a decision. Research shows that intuition is a powerful addition to your capabilities. And when you repress or ignore it, you may actually harm yourself over time.
3. Have The Heart Of A Lion
You’re there to buffer your team and absorb the inevitable workplace ridiculousness so they can get on with their excellent work.
Like pushing back against absurd policies that seem deliberately crafted to demoralize talented people.
Or taking a cue from the most successful sports coaches and spending most of your time with your top performers, which is opposite from what most of us are exhorted to do.
Even banishing group-speaking by creating an environment where everyone can speak up and contribute their ideas safely — yet being fiercely compassionate and calling out detrimental behavior when it occurs, rather than leaving it to fester.
If you’ve ever been in a workplace where someone was behaving badly, but the managers lacked the courage to address the poor behavior, you know how damaging it can be.
Being fearful of confrontation is natural. But as John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
As a leader, you are always on stage. People will take their cues from you.
Model the behavior you’d like them to emulate.
4. Be Relentlessly Humble
Authentic servant leadership isn’t, in the end, all about you. If you think you’re all that and a bag of chips, it’s time to recalibrate!
Be willing to re-consider every detail about who you firmly believe yourself to be. Letting go of your idea of a fixed persona is one of the fastest ways to hone yourself as a leader and adapt your style to suit the circumstances.
Challenge yourself to examine your assumptions.
Although ongoing questioning of yourself seems like the behavior of an insecure person, it’s not. You’ll need robust self-confidence.
Seek your team’s opinion, especially when you’re stumped on a problem. You hired excellent people, right? Don’t be afraid to crowd-source a solution.
Apologize to your team and the rest of your colleagues when you’ve stepped in it. Offer up an apology, take your licks, and tell them how you’ll make amends.
And take what you do seriously but don’t take yourself seriously.
“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” – Brian Tracy
Are You Ready To Be A Crackerjack Leader?
No matter the size or scope of your organization, you can become an excellent leader.
When you do, your exceptional qualities will draw exceptionally talented people to you.
They’ll call and ask if you have any job openings because they heard you were great to work for.
Even if you don’t have a job coming up, they’ll ask you to please keep them in mind the next time you have something suitable.
They will also be selling themselves to you, making it easier for you to build an outstanding team.
People who already work for you will turn down transfers, and sometimes even promotions, to keep you as their leader. They’ll brag to their colleagues about the fantastic place they work for, and the great boss they have.
Your team will deliver excellent results.
When you’re a stand-out leader, talented people will crawl over broken glass to work for you.