Leadership in Challenging Times- and Good Times-
is Often the Same:
There is so much being published about leadership during times of turmoil and crisis, and it’s all relevant and very useful. But I think it’s important to remember that what makes a good leader is not always contextual. There are some (dare I say many?) leadership characteristics that are critically important in both the best of times and the worst of times. One of these is the ability to inspire and motivate others. Inspiring leaders are equipped to lead their teams through the storms AND capitalize on the sunshine.
Is this shocking news to you? I didn’t think so. If you subscribe to this newsletter, you are likely a strong leader with an understanding of what good leadership looks like and have a hunger to learn more and become better. This week, I wanted to step back from the focus on COVID-19 to share some learnings from my research for the book I co-authored, The Inspiring Leader. We reviewed the 360-assessments of leaders ranked in the top 10% (out of 250,000) and identified some of the most commonly exhibited behaviors. I’ve outlined a few of the high-impact behaviors below:
- Make Emotional Connections. Making an emotional connection with those you intend to motivate is key. There are many ways you can make an emotional connection- I’m not talking about wild displays of emotion, rather, connecting as a human being. Sharing enthusiasm and passion about a project will drive extra effort and commitment; voicing frustration or concern about a problem can help people understand the gravity of a situation and find solutions. Most of all, it’s about relating to the people you work. We are not task focused robots.
- Clear Vision and Strategy. Motivating leaders are able to articulate a clear vision and design a strategy to achieve that vision. I am often surprised by the amount of ambiguity and lack of precision many leaders demonstrate when explaining their vision and strategy. I don’t mean to suggest articulating a clear vision is simple – it’s incredibly difficult. There is a reason French philosopher Blaise Pascal is famous for writing “if I would have had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” Despite the challenge, zeroing in on a clear vision and strategy is time well spent as a leader – it’s difficult to motivate people to pursue an ambiguous goal. When you inspire your team to drive forward, you better be sure they have an accurate map.
- Develop Talent. Nothing will make someone more willing to go the extra mile than investing in them, even if it means they may outgrow the position for which you hired them. When people tell me about the best leaders they’ve worked for, invariably I hear about a leader who cared about and supported their development as a professional. It’s human nature to want to work hard for people who work hard for you. Think back to your favorite teacher, what did you like about him or her? I would be willing to bet there is something about the time, energy, and effort they invested in your growth. A strong commitment to talent development is a win/win: team members develop a loyalty to you, and they become stronger contributors to the team. Sure, you might lose them if they develop out of their current role, but if you’re investing in talent across the organization, you should have someone right behind them ready for a new opportunity.
These skills are important in good times and bad. Practice them all the time.
Prepare Your Sales Organization for Future Growth. Now.:
Executives, who are responsible for the future value of the business, need to look ahead and think about where business will come from as we eventually emerge from quarantine. In my latest Forbes article I discuss three things leaders can do focus their Sales Organization on future growth.
I’m excited to announce that I was picked to be part of LinkedIn Live. I am eager to start and will be launching my live chats next week, on Tuesday, May 5th (Cinco De Mayo) at 10 a.m. Eastern. It may be too early for a margarita but grab your coffee and tune in as I will be discussing how to lead your Sales Organization when there aren’t as many sales to be made.
I came across an article this past week about connections and why casual connections are important right now. You see, we generally interact with weak ties regularly throughout our day. Whether it’s the barista at the coffee shop, an acquaintance at the office or server at a restaurant these interactions help us to remember we are part of a bigger community. We are all lacking some of these daily connections, but the article addresses strategies to reach out to those you may have a weaker tie to. Who in your network could you reach out to? Even a simple text to a colleague or client can help fill the lack of casual connection right now. Full article here.