Everyone I know in leadership has more to do then they have hours in the day. But even with the top leaders I coach, there’s a common mistake they make when they’re pressed for time—most are concentrating on tasks instead of leading. It’s understandable that when you have too much to do, you do what comes easily, but that impulse doesn’t lend itself to great leadership.
People go into leadership because they are visionaries and motivators, and they should be creating leaders among their team members instead of putting out fires and staring at spreadsheets all day.
To implement your vision and direction, you have to do the work of leadership. That means, above all, creating strong relationships with your teams so they can work productively and effectively even in your absence.
Too often, though, leaders get stuck in the weeds, doing daily tasks, being a manager instead of a leader.
So how can you make sure you’re actually leading? By having these four powerful conversations every month:
Conversation #1—Check in on the weather. Spend a few moments with every team member learning their thoughts on the organizational culture and their day-to-day work life. Make sure you know if there is the forecast looks clear or if storms are brewing. A monthly check-in keeps the channels of communication open so there are no surprises or last-minute course corrections at the end of the year.
Conversation #2—Identify greatness and gaps in those you value. We all have strengths, areas in which we excel and talents. But we also have gaps—the habits of mind that get in the way of our greatness (as you may have read about in my new book, The Leadership Gap). To be effective, we need to know and embrace our best talents and inner strengths, and we also need to know the gaps that may keep us stuck and playing small. As a leader, you should constantly be aware of your team members’ strengths and nurture their talent, but also understand their gaps and help them learn to leverage their unproductive thinking into something positive.
Conversation #3—Ask about development and improvement. Most people are eager for opportunities to improve and develop new skills. Too often, though, leaders don’t expend the time or effort to find out ways to help their people grow—not because they don’t want to, but because they’re too busy. But making time for people to learn and grow is as important as anything else you could be doing. Aside from the benefits to your team, it shows that you consider them a worthy investment. Making time for the development of your people is the essence of leadership.
#Conversation #4—Generate a game plan for success. We’ve all heard the quote “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” And the way to show you care is not with words but action. Work with each member of your team to generate a game plan for success. Give them the benefit of your experience in helping them identify and reach their goals, and they in turn will give you the best they have to offer.
Don’t be one of those leaders who feel they don’t have time to hold regular meetings, who say they’re too busy to have these conversations. And don’t try lumping everything in together so you can feel you’ve done your duty. This system works if you maintain one single conversational theme at a time. The idea is to keep the channels of communication open, to keep the dialogue moving, to learn what makes your team more effective and productive.
Lead from within: At the end of the day, when it comes to leadership if you don’t have the time to do right, when will you have the time to do it over?
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.