5 Steps to Leadership Growth: #4 Performance
The fourth step of the framework I use with leaders to help them build capacity is Performance. As you grow in your leadership – honing your “Power of One,” this framework can help both you and those you are developing to stay on course:
What are the most important elements of Leadership Performance?
Let’s turn to some experts for their definitions of Leadership*:
Peter Drucker: “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”
Or, in the words of the Afghan proverb: “If you think you’re leading and no one is following, you’re just taking a walk.” Your most important role as a leader is to make sure you have engaged your team and staff in your vision and direction. Putting time and energy into assuring your have a vision and strategy that others can follow needs to be one of your top priorities.
Warren Bennis: “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
As a leadership coach, I often work with leaders who are either good at strategy and not so strong on implementation, or strong on “getting things done” and lack the big picture. When we are performing as effective leaders, we have both a clear strategy and a way to implement it – and most of the implementation is going to be done by others.
Bill Gates: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
The only way to grow a function, department, or organization is to build capacity. And the only real way to build capacity is to grow and empower others. When I tell leaders that their #1 responsibility is to grow and empower others, they often sometimes look at me like I have 3 eyes. But there it is, folks.
John Maxwell: “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”
Influence is important because others, many of whom have no direct reporting relationship to us, do so much for what we are responsible. It is incredibly important for leaders to understand how to use our personal strengths and power to collaborate with others to get the results we desire. Once you are in the role of leader, Leadership Performance and success often means taking a higher, broader view, and using your influence and knowledge and skill to affect positive change through others.
Here are some quick tips on keeping your Leadership Performance effective:
? Build interdependence with peers – Scott Eblin, in his book The Next Level, reminds leaders to remember that at the upper levels, success depends more on interdependence than independence. Get to your executive peers by asking them open-ended questions that demonstrate your interest and willingness to help. Move past arguing over positions by taking the time to understand each other’s underlying interests.
? Lead your team – Strong leadership performance is often making the transition from “doer” to leader. It is making a shift in sense of self, and reprioritizing what is most important in the job. It is moving from doing what you are so good at that it got you elevated to this role, only to realise that, as leaderhip expert Marshall Goldsmith says in the title of his seminal book: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – Build trust by conducting regular group meetings to share information and touch base.
? Collaborate and influence – More advice from Scott Eblin – Build in your influence through collaboration, not from accumulating or hoarding information or resources. Recognize when you may have to sacrifice or contribute key resources for the good of the whole. Focus on expanding the size of the pie and not just getting the biggest slice for yourself.
? Manage your emotions – Make sure to keep your emotions in check by responding rather than reacting to input or actions with which you don’t agree. You may need to learn how to count to ten, implement “active listening” skills, and use stress management techniques so you keep your cool. Be willing to choose an effective outcome with your peers over the desire to demonstrate that you’re right on a particular point.
? Use your personal presence – Remember that 75% of our communication is non-verbal, so use your “mantle of leadership” to maximize your leadership capacity. As my mother used to say, stand up straight. Walk into a room with confidence and sit in the front of the room to show enthusiasm. Keep your door open when possible to encourage open exchange of ideas, and when you need to focus, close the door and put in friendly but clear sign on the door. And remember, a smile is worth a thousand words.
*From “What is Leadership?” Kevin Kruse, contributor, Forbes, April 9, 2013