Some believe that great leaders are born, not made. I’ve worked with hundreds of leaders and believe this is simply not true. Successful leaders, those who make a real impact, share some common traits that can be developed and honed. With my clients, I routinely work with the C-suite to develop leaders and lay the foundation for a strong culture and ultimately, a strong business.

This blog is the first in a series that will provide simple strategies leaders can employ to sharpen their leadership skills. They are simple, on-the-job self-directed exercises that can be incorporated into a regular workday.  For best results, keep the following in mind:

  • Do each suggestion with a clear purpose in mind.
  • Approach each exercise with a spirit of experimentation.  Not all will work equally well and some may have to be adapted to meet your unique needs and situation.
  • Take time to reflect on how well each exercise went.  Consider questions like the following: What changes did you see? How did you feel about each exercise? How did your direct reports react?

It may also help to keep a journal of each exercise and notes on the outcome. Do not worry about format or grammar. The value is in taking the time to be intentional about your goals and reflect on the outcome.

Building Meaningful Work Relationships

  1. Write a thank you note or “job well done” memo every day for a week.  Be certain your notes are sincere and specific. Make note of how recipients react.
  2. Offer at least one sincere compliment a day to an employee at any level of the company.
  3. Practice common courtesies: apologies, hallway greetings, thank you cards, get well messages, sympathy notes, etc.
  4. Increase visibility by maintaining a visibility log. Use this log to keep track of the percentage of your workday that you are out of your office and talking to team members.
  5. Make a point to ask team members more about themselves, not only about work-related interests but also about their outside interests.
  6. Make a list of ten questions about work performance that interest you. Then make a point to ask all ten questions over the course of a two-week period. The point is to engage your team members in personal and meaningful conversation.
  7. Identify the team members who you have the most trouble with or who you know the least.  Make a point to engage in a friendly one-on-one conversation with each of them.
  8. Make a list of your traits that you believe interfere with your management relationships.  Work to correct each one as you interact with others.
  9. Identify team members with whom you have your strongest relationships.  Make a list of traits that the relationships have in common. Work to nurture these traits with others.
  10. Go a full-day listening without interrupting once.

Measurability Tip – Paper Clip Accountability

Place five paper clips in one pocket. Each time you compliment or meaningfully connect with a team member, transfer one paper clip to another pocket.  At the end of the day, all the paper clips should have moved.

 

By Christine R. Spray