Updated: Apr 27
I get asked frequently if there is any quick way to improve your leadership. If you’ve every heard me talk about leadership, it’s a pretty long and tough process to be a great leader. Leadership is leading a group of individuals to get results.
I like saying a group of individuals because it explains that each person on your team is their own person. They have their own past that has generated countless experiences, some good and some bad. Each person has a different skill set and a different perception on each situation. And now a leader has the task to get each individual to work together to get bigger results than themselves. This is extremely difficult! So much so that most “leaders” resort to fear-based leadership. Leaders who are fear-based leaders usually become that because they tried it the hard way, they tried to get others to work together for a common vision, but they failed. And when they failed, they realized its easier just to put fear behind their leadership.
The problem with this style of leadership is that your influence with your team is almost at zero! Leadership IS INFLUENCE.
So back to the original question. Is there a quick way to improve your leadership? My answer is, there are two things that if you focus on, you can improve your leadership influence. Relationships and results.
Keep in mind this is a slippery slope because one without the other is just bad leadership. You must have both to be a great leader. So as your pushing your team, ask yourself 2 things. Does this improve my relationship with everyone? And does this improve results. If the answer is yes to both, its probably a smart leadership move.
Now, what if you want to push your team to get results and sacrifice your relationships? This may feel beneficial short term, but long term is a mistake. Consider what your decision will do with your team trusting you, or respecting your leadership, or wanting to communicate with you. Most of these if not all will slowly diminish each and every time you sacrifice your relationships for results.
Now let’s talk about the other side. What if you can’t get results but continue to develop relationships? I can think of a ton of leaders that are stuck here. They are super friendly and care about their people but can’t seem to push to get any real results. At best this style of leadership will keep you at a very low leadership position at most companies.
Think about this. Upper level leadership focuses on results and lower level leadership focuses on relationships. The genuinely great leaders are ones who can do both, and there are only a few out there. I bet if you think for one second about the best leaders you’ve ever worked for, or seen. I bet they were fantastic at both.
To improve relationships, you must connect with you people. To do this it start with them. You must understand who they are, what they like. You must put in the effort and show that you truly care about them. This doesn’t mean asking them how they are doing when they come into work. That’s called common courtesy.
I mean plan and prepare your discussions so that your relationship can improve a little each day. Keep in mind, relationships take time and a leader has the most influence. So use the influence to positively improve the relationship with each individual on your team.
Now lets talk about getting results. Results are way easier to get if you have a strong healthy relationships as your foundation. But to put this as simple as possible, a leader must share their vision, along with the company vision and finally the team vision and how they are all aligned. This gives the team something to strive for. It also helps them feel like they are apart of something bigger than themselves.
The second thing is to build a culture. A strong culture has elements of trust, respect, open communication, having fun and team development.
There is nothing that brings people together than a united positive culture that each individual can thrive in.
The final thing you need to push for results is a strategy or strategic objectives. Have an action plan that the team can see and feel their progress is key to creating motivation and momentum for a team. Being able the celebrate progress and to do it as a team creates a strong bond and help everyone feel they are winning. Everyone wants to win. Everyone wants to feel they are apart of something bigger than themselves.
As a leader something that has always helped me move forward in my leadership is knowing that everyone wants happiness. Everyone wants to win. Everyone want to be apart of something bigger than themselves. Everyone wants to be trusted. Everyone wants to be respected.
Knowing this gives me the confidence that IF I can get past the early struggles of leadership that I can get through to anyone. I can help them get what they want, and I can change their life. I believe that about anyone.