Leadership Articles: TALKING LEADERSHIP


A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
January 2014   |   By Dan Gaynor

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Leadership Resolutions

As the year 2014 gets underway many of us will take the opportunity to reflect on the year past and make some resolutions for the one just getting underway. So let's build on this theme with the idea that leadership is all about choice. The best leaders make better choices than the rest, so let us consider some of the more important ones, developing something of a checklist for possible resolutions.

The first and likely the most important choice is between self and team. So many poor leaders think the team exists to meet their needs. The best understand that they exist to meet the team's needs. All great leadership is sacrificial. The best understand that their needs come last. The best use their power and any other resources at their disposal to serve the teams they lead. People respond to these leaders with hard work and loyalty.

Next on our list is the choice between sharing and withholding information. A great many leaders see information as power, without realizing that the power is in sharing, not withholding it. Topics like earnings, marketshare, labour issues and a host of other strategic items are often the ones leaders avoid. Talking about them sends a powerful message of trust and it gives people the big picture context they need to do their jobs well. Discussing the more personal topics like the departure of colleagues sends the message that the leader knows and cares about the things team members care about – it draws people closer. To be sure, you must approach these issues sensitively and without disclosing confidential information. You can talk about the organization's position to a target without disclosing the actual numbers. You can acknowledge that a departing colleague will be missed without disclosing the reasons for the departure. The bottom line is, if you want engaged employees, you have to engage them.

Our third choice is to invest in the development of your team members. I'm not talking here about finding budget for a continuing education course (although there is nothing wrong with this.) I'm talking about investing personal time to teach what you have learned to the people you lead, one on one, or in groups. This kind of teaching sends the message that you care and it builds stronger more dedicated teams. These are the leaders others describe as mentors.

Our fourth choice, between confrontation and avoidance, is one that trips up many leaders. Regular readers will know that I'm a huge proponent of feedback skills. I believe great feedback habits are often what separates the most effective leaders from the rest. Why? Because great leaders build strong teams one member one conversation at a time. Each time you correct a problem, you strengthen the team. The problem is, these can be difficult conversations and so a great many leaders choose to avoid them. And this is often a very private choice. The chances are, if you avoid corrective feedback, much of the time no one else will know you did. Your team will stall, never coming close to its potential.

There are of course other important choices, leadership is all about them, but these four are certainly a good starting point. So how well did you choose last year, and what's in store for 2014?

Discussion Questions:

  1. How are your communication habits? Are you sharing as much information as you could or should be?
  2. How much time are you spending personally teaching what you have learned to others?
  3. When faced with a need to provide corrective feedback, how do you respond?
  4. Take the time to write one leadership resolution for the coming year.

Want to go deeper into leadership? Why not start the year off with a group workshop.

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A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
January 2014   |   By Dan Gaynor


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Leader as Follower, October 2015

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