Have you forgotten what it takes to be a leader?
If you forego the basics of leadership, you’ll sacrifice success.
WARNING: This blog’s content may contain familiar concepts, but might be easily overlooked due to their simplicity, which could hinder achieving leadership excellence.
Everyone has been concerned about remote leadership during the pandemic, and a hybrid work environment is likely to continue. Keeping this in mind, engagement scores have continued to atrophy, and current leadership is still the primary reason for leaving on exit interviews. Fortunately, this gives us all an opportunity to reestablish leadership excellence.
Is there a solution? Like any sports professional trying to reach their peak, getting back to the basics is the only way forward. We should take an honest look at foundational leadership skills to accurately assess what’s in the mirror and take the necessary steps toward reaching the next level.
Let’s begin with Appreciation and two underutilized words: Thank You. Realistically assess if you consistently thank members of your team every week. This may feel unnecessary but how do you know? You’re not alone if you haven’t talked to your direct reports about their ideal frequency for recognition. Those who have are often surprised by individual expectations because they are different from their own. Those you support may need more verbal validation of your appreciation. If you are unsure, try it. They’ll be glad you did.
Next is Humility. Most leaders have worked hard to get to where they are today, and those experiences might make it difficult to share their moments of uncertainty. Like “thank you,” the best leaders use two other simple phrases very effectively: “I’m sorry” and “I don’t know.” Vulnerability helps your team connect with you as their leader and creates the opportunity for open communication and collaboration. The best leaders are teachable and can learn from their own team members. Ask for feedback from your team at least once a quarter, and don’t retaliate by also giving them feedback in the same meeting.
Lastly is Accountability. Most leaders will disagree with performance and results being a soft skill because accountability typically means numbers and metrics. However, we often use the phrase, “I feel held accountable”, the key word being feel. Accountability and support can mean the same thing. If we as leaders use two phrases on a consistent basis – “How are you doing? and “How can I be helpful?” – we will create the culture of daily encouragement and trust. Schedule weekly touchpoints to review progress using these two phrases. And when things come up, don’t cancel the meeting; it’s valuable, even if you only meet for 10 minutes.
It is intentional that these three basic skills create the acronym of AHA! This discovery will hopefully shift you to relying on your soft skills to be a better leader, both in the office and remote.
We’d love to hear how this honest exploration has helped strengthen your leadership capabilities and your relationship with your team. Share your success stories with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and you might inspire our next article.