Leadership strategies that influence, engage, and encourage excellent performance.
Talking about leadership strategies can quickly become a bit ambiguous. It is difficult to say exactly how each strategy will have a direct effect on your bottom line. The important thing to keep in mind is that the role of the leader is to influence, engage, and encourage people to action around a common goal. This means that authoritative, draconian leadership strategies have become understandably less popular in today’s workforce (though I think we all know at least one person who still uses them!)
Unfortunately, many leaders and managers either have not been taught or do not understand how to employ leadership strategies that can improve their ability to influence action and improve performance on their team. Others may just need a little reminder to help reignite your use of these important leadership strategies.
1. Define & Communicate Vision
The eye looks, but it is the mind that sees.
Your vision is a vivid, aspirational leadership strategy that paints a picture of the future of your organization. It is long term and it is measurable. Hopefully, you already have a vision for yourself and your organization; a purpose that drives you to do what you do every day. But are you able to share that vision with others and put it into action to drive results?
When you lead a team without a vision, everyone still ends up working, and often working quite hard, but important goals might not be achieved. Positive results are not achieved. Your vision brings the team together under a common goal so you are not simply working, but performing together toward something. Something that is big and exciting!
Your vision answers the question: Where are we going?
And you need to be crystal clear in your definition of what that destination looks like, even if you do not yet know exactly how you are going to get there. This leadership strategy gives you and your team the ability to know exactly where you are located within the vision at any given time, and whether you are getting closer to or further away from your destination.
2. Encourage Recognition
Employees want to feel appreciated. They want to feel valued. It instills a sense of commitment and engagement.
When individuals and teams work above and beyond expectations to achieve great results, celebration and recognition are how you encourage continued commitment to the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. It is how excellence is encouraged over time, and how it stays strong even in times of high production volume and stress.
What gets rewarded gets repeated. This statement has become a business maxim, yet managers still often overlook the positive impact of this simple, yet effective leadership strategy.
Studies have shown that only 60% of adults in the workplace will agree that personal recognition is important to them and that it works well to help keep them motivated. That means that 40% think they do not really need recognition, they are self-motivated enough to work well without recognition. And yet, 96% of the people in that same group responded that when they receive personal recognition, it definitely inspires and motivates them to do more work. The conclusion is that, while your team may not need recognition, recognition does inspire people to do more and better work.
Even better, when you create a culture of gratitude and recognition on your team, they will pick it up and start to recognize each other on their own. This creates a great sense of community and cohesion that motivates everyone to perform at their highest level.
3. Speak from the Heart
Do you speak about your organization from your heart or from your budget?
Many people mistakenly believe that leadership is something that some people are born with and others are not. The truth is that leadership is a choice. It is a choice that only you can make; leadership can not be given or forced upon you.
When you communicate with your team, they know whether or not you are passionately engaged in being the leader by how you speak about your company’s vision, mission, and goals. They can sense in your daily interactions if your commitment to their growth and development is as important to you as your own.
4. Delegate & Empower
Perhaps the best leadership strategy to engage your team is to empower them by delegating greater responsibility. It can be exciting to be entrusted with a position of responsibility, so if something makes you feel a sense of self-worth, give that self-worth to others on your team. Find areas where you can give people the responsibility and, importantly, the authority to get things done.
Have you ever heard from your team that they can not finish their work because they are waiting for you? Are they waiting for you to take a look at or approve their work? That may be a prime example of an area that you should consider letting go of. Empower and, if necessary, train them, coach them, encourage them, and reward them.
Take a minute to do a mental exercise. Imagine you have been given a special assignment that will require you to be out of the office for the next three months. During those three months, all of your work still has to get done, but you are not allowed to hire anybody new. The assignment will only last for three months, and you have thirty days to figure out how you will redistribute your work.
Pick up your pen and, for a few seconds, think about to whom you would start delegating more responsibility. Write down one to three things you would start delegating. The reality is that a leader can not perpetually do everything that needs to get done. You need others who are empowered to complete critical tasks, and you need backup.
5. Commit to Continued Education
Leadership is a journey with no real destination. Great leaders commit to continued growth and refinement through continued education, practical application of skills, and networking both internally and externally. You are never done growing as a leader.
This includes sharing your knowledge and experiences with others. They say you never learn as much as when you are teaching, and we are truly fulfilling ourselves as leaders when we are in the role of the coach and mentor. Commit to developing your team’s leadership skills as much as your own, and you will find not only gratitude and fulfillment but will also lay the foundation for a strong leadership pipeline.