Photo Credit: Crew, Unsplash.com

Leadership can be a tricky role sometimes. Many things get in the way and stop us from leading like we know we should.

We have all kinds of daily demands and responsibilities that outweigh our personal desires and needs to spend the extra time working with our teams. We continue to tell ourselves that when things slow down we’ll communicate better, assign work differently, give that much-needed feedback to an employee, or just recognize them for a job well done.

The reality is, if you’re waiting for a slowdown, that time’s likely to never come. It requires effort and a desire to lead more authentically.

I firmly believe that everyone knows “how” to lead. And if that’s true, then only you can determine what’s stopping you from being the leader that your organization needs. That your team needs. In one of my recent blogs, No Quick Fix Here: Leadership Authenticity, you’ll see my initial thoughts on why I was being compelled to create a leadership development program — or as I like to call it — a cultural movement.

The bottom line was that for years I watched some of the best-intentioned (potentially great) leaders burn out because they couldn’t see beyond the daily demands and responsibilities. Their workload continued to get bigger. Their faith in their team continued to get smaller. The engagement of their employees slipped away until turnover was so costly that positions just stopped being backfilled. It was a vicious cycle.

That’s just one example of what happens, but there are so many reasons why leaders choose to not engage in an authentic and vulnerable way with their teams. I’m here to tell you there’s a strong business case for why and how you need to show up differently.

One key piece of leadership research is by Marcus Buckingham. He’s famous for his work on playing to your strengths. As a leader, you’ve got a responsibility to your company and your employees to do this for yourself, but also to spend time with your people, understanding their strengths. You should be looking for opportunities to accelerate performance and increase satisfaction in your own job and your employee’s job.

Research from Buckingham’s organization proved that teams who have a chance to play to their strengths every day are:

  • 50% more likely to lower employee turnover
  • 38% more likely to be high-productivity teams
  • 44% more likely to earn high customer satisfaction scores

What do you think an improvement like this can do to the bottom line of profitability?

Marcus has many books out there that share all of the research, but you’ll find the magic behind these numbers in his book First, Go Break All the Rules. It’s important for organizations to begin investing in the development of their people leaders. It’s also important for people leaders to want to dig deep and grow.

Baby steps are the key right now to the plague of the Gallup data which shows that 70% of employees are disengaged at work. Leadership’s cited as one of the key reasons why people leave an organization. We must begin to take a deep, introspective look at ourselves as leaders to put a dent in that number.

Here are a couple steps you can begin working on today:

Get Clear

Know what you stand you for: your mission, vision, and values and how that aligns with your organization.

Is your team aware of your vision and values?

What are your strengths and how do you play into them?

What’s the strength of each individual on your team?

How can you use that information to assign work?

Let Go

Let go of things that stop you from leading from your mission, vision, and values.

Sometimes letting go isn’t about leaving something behind as much as it’s about changing your perception and actions. 

Be Aware

Start noticing your behavior.

If you find yourself moving away from something happening in your day, ask yourself what you’re really doing.

Are you in some form of risk, and going silent (or violent)? Take note of your feelings. Learn to accurately name the emotion behind your story.

What emotions are encouraging you to act this way? Offer other options for your stories. Question your conclusions and look for other possible explanations behind your story. What story’s creating these emotions?

Imagine how differently you’ll interact with people once you’re conscious of your intent and can give yourself options for the intent of others.

Have Fun

Knowing who you are and how you lead can bring you to a place of greater productivity… and fun! Do you remember what it’s like to have fun at work?

If you’re interested in understanding your energy and how it impacts the way you lead your team — if you’re interested in having fun at work again — connect with me today!

My practice has so many wonderful development opportunities for you to grow as a leader and grow as a team! Let’s build this cultural movement together!

Heather Parks is the founder of New Dimensions Coaching, a professional leadership development coaching firm. Her primary mission is to enable leaders with the mindset and skill to engage, thrive and drive positive business outcomes.

 

Heather has dedicated more than seventeen years to the field of Talent Development with corporate roles such as Vice President, Global Leadership Development, Vice President, Organizational Effectiveness and Learning, Director, Strategic Workforce Planning & HR Transformation, and Director, Talent Management. She has worked and consulted with Fortune 500 organizations such as Bank of America, Delta Air Lines, TIAA-CREF, Ecolab, Caterpillar, 3M & Assurant.

To learn more, please visit www.ndcoaching.com


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