Leadership is a word that we often take for granted. It’s generally accepted that some people are natural leaders and some people aren’t, yet we expect that anyone in management role is a leader who knows how to coach, communicate and inspire performance. More often than not, people are promoted because they are good at their job, not because they exhibit leadership skills. This can be true for everyone from managers up the Presidents/CEOs. The one thing that continually surprises me is how many leaders do not know, and were not taught, how to effectively coach their teams, even though it is a key responsibility of their job.
Leadership— like any other skill – must be developed, practiced and refined. Title nor performance makes one a leader.
Working with our clients, we often see that leadership is viewed as a soft skill where its development is not a priority for many reasons:
- “It costs too much / isn’t in the budget”
- “Leadership training doesn’t work”
- “Our leaders already have the skills”
- “If you select candidates correctly, you don’t have to do leadership training”
- “We’re too busy to do (leadership) training”
- “It is important, but it isn’t at the top of our priority list”
Successful organizations can’t afford to have their leaders operate without strong leadership skills. Today’s leaders need to continually upgrade their skills to effectively collaborate and meet the development needs of today’s working world. The Poirier Group is able to provide group and one-on-one leadership training and consulting for our clients, but leadership isn’t, and shouldn’t be, reserved for certain people or certain roles. We encourage everyone at every level of each organization to take leadership into their own hands. And the good news is that there are steps we can all take today to enhance our leadership skills.
Here are my top tips for everyday leadership:
Commit to creating expert skills through continual improvement
How you do one thing is how you do everything, and the good news is that your effort is 100% within your control. Commit to giving nothing less than your very best in everything you do, whether you are leading a Fortune 500 company, starting an entry level position or working a part-time job for extra money. Commit to learning and improving each day and you’ll soon be a leader among your peers.
We all need to lead where we are planted and shine where we now find ourselves.
– Sharma Robin, The Leader Without a Title
Act with authenticity
It is imperative that you are trustworthy – not only with others but with yourself. Leadership success lies in doing what is right and staying true to your values. Your ability to have impact and make a contribution comes from who are you as a person and not from the authority you received from an org chart.
We know people buy the person, not products or services. And the same is true for employees: people buy into people, not a title or tyrannical leadership style. An important part of showing leadership is to be more committed to speaking honestly than receiving the approvals of others.
Use unstable and chaotic times to build your leadership skills
Change brings uncertainty and fear, but you have the choice to act either pro-actively or re-actively in response to each situation in life. You can choose to respond with courage or stay paralyzed by fear. Leadership is all about leveraging hard times and using them to your advantage so utilize adversity as an opportunity to grow your leadership skills
Use recognition as a motivator
People thrive when they feel like their work has been valued. Always look for ways, both publicly and privately where you can thank people for their work. Everyone should be recognized for doing the right thing, or doing something outside of their comfort zone. We all know what it’s like to work with someone who doesn’t acknowledge good work. Even worse, we all know people who like taking credit for other’s work.
Real leaders lift others up and share credit. Look for opportunities to shout out the good work of others. Public recognition could include kudos in meetings or conference calls while private recognition could be in the form of email or in-person.
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.
– Harry Truman
Leave everyone better off than you found them
Do you add value to those around you? Research shows the deeper your relationships, the stronger your leadership. Strive to nurture people so they feel valued after each engagement. It shouldn’t be a shock that you get the best out of others when you give the best of yourself. Remember that the more value you create for others, the more you’ll be successful by default.
Go ahead and suggest someone who could be a good lead on a new project, nominate someone to be a facilitator or other type of visible leader in a meeting or workshop, suggest someone to give a talk at a company or team meeting, or ask if someone’s manager if you can share feedback about something positive you witnessed. Highlight others and leave them better than you found them to increase your leadership skills.
All of us light up a room, some when they enter, others when they leave.
By using the 5 tips above, everyone can harness their power to become a leader or enhance their leadership skills. I encourage you to take these steps starting today to cultivate those skills. No matter your position within an organization, your age or any other factor – you can be an everyday leader.