Leaders face an overwhelming number of opportunities to improve, create change and make the world a better place.
In this post, Bruce Harpham shares 3 truths that will help develop your leadership skills.
I was struck by the importance of the ideas of James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner when reading their book The Truth about Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-Of-The-Matter Facts You Need to Know.
The 3 Truths About Leadership
Following these truths consistently requires a commitment to daily practice.
Laying the moral foundation for long-term leadership
Have you ever noticed that political leaders and others in the public eye sometimes refuse to acknowledge that they are role models?
While researching this topic, I found over 300 articles about actors, entertainers, and sports personalities that said, “I’m not a role model”. It appears that many seek public attention but don't want the responsibility of leadership.
However, those in leadership positions need to acknowledge that they are role models, and must act with honesty and integrity since their behaviour and actions do influence others.
Building a moral foundation based on honesty and integrity is crucial in leadership, and this starts with simple steps:
- Understanding commitments before you agree to anything: Misunderstandings and poor communication create problems. Fortunately, these can be overcome by being clear about the due date, quality expectations and so on.
- Always delivering your promises: To build your commitment to honesty, start by meeting deadlines with discipline, and always renegotiate deadlines when the situation changes.
Know yourself and reflect on your values and strengths
Working to your strengths and values is an essential trait of leadership. Whilst self-reflection is challenging, one way to determine your values is to:
- Understand your personality, behaviour, and strengths: Explore personality and behaviour assessments. Well-designed assessments give you a fresh perspective on your strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots so that you can direct your energy more effectively.
- Consider reading StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and complete the related assessment.
For added insight, explore how your values align to your organization’s values. For instance, there is great alignment between a personal value on lifelong learning and an organization that values innovation. Remember that values are complex concepts that may be described with different words, so don’t be afraid to consult a dictionary or thesaurus for clarification.
Leaders go first, especially when there is risk!
Going first is scary, and it is a key behaviour for leaders to practice. In fact, going first is a well-established practice for leaders. Robert Ayling, the CEO of British Airways, took a flight to boost public confidence in the year 2000 and show that the “Y2K” problem had been solved. In today’s organization, going first usually means something quite different: risking criticism and negative comments from other people.
Here are four ways that you can go first as a leader:
- Be the first in the meeting room. It’s frustrating to wait for the leader to arrive in the room and sends the message that lateness is acceptable.
- Learn new technology first in your team. For example, this move can be particularly valuable when your team is upset about an upgrade to an expense system or other administrative resource.
- Offer enthusiastic support for new projects. Changing the culture and behaviour in large organizations is challenging. As a leader, you can go first by supporting new projects in word and deed.
- Be an effective follower whether your boss is the CEO, the board of directors or someone else. Author and entrepreneur Michael Hyatt explains why this is an important behaviour for leaders to model in Why Learning to Lead Means Learning to Follow.
How will you put these leadership truths into action in your organization? You are welcome to share your experiences in the comments.