Today I wanted to spend some time reflecting on some leadership lessons I have learned and observed from GovLoop, and during my career. Whether you are the newest employee at an organization, the new young gun, or the elder statesmen, there is always room to grow as a leader. You can’t wake up and be a great leader. We are always faced with different managerial and leadership challenges, but that’s the fun of leadership. We can always look to new ways to inspire and motivate people, so that collectively, we reach the goals and mission of our organization.
So with that being said, here are 5 leadership lessons. My hope is that you’ll spend a little time reflecting on each, and think through ways you can improve your leadership styles and continue to motivate and grow your team.
1 – Delegate Work Efficiently and Trust Your Team
Sometimes, it feels like leadership is like walking a tightrope. You need to be able to delegate work, trust in the completion by employees, and avoid taking the “I can do it all myself approach.” With that being said, there needs to be a line drawn to assert your authority, so your managerial duties do not become undermined when necessary. I think here is where you really see the importance of a “manager” verse a “leader.”
2 – Listen, and Listen Reflectively
A trait that is so important is the ability to sit back and listen, process what is being said, and then correctly repeat to back for confirmation. This is a good conflict resolution technique, and generally, a good communication strategy.
3 – Keep a Journal – Spend Time Reflecting
A professor recommended this to me once, at the end of every week, take a few minutes and write down things that worked well and not so well from the week. It’s always good to reflect, think about where you could improve, and areas of weakness. As a leader sometimes we have to say to, “It’s not you, it’s me,” very often we might be annoyed with a coworker, individual, maybe even a family member – but we neglect to realize we are the ones really enabling a behavior.
4 – Seek and Provide Feedback
Maybe this is just me showing one of my extreme traits as a millennial, but I love feedback. I’ll seek it, ask for, and take as much as I can get. For me, the positive attribution to work feels great, but in most cases, I want to know how to improve. As a leader, to really motivate and get the best out employees, it’s important to provide the right kind of feedback, and really understand what the individual wants to hear. It’s also important to circle off the feedback loop, and always offering up the chance for more feedback, or make it more targeted.
5 – Lead By Example
If you say a meeting should start at 9, don’t be late. If you want employees wearing a suit and tie, don’t wear jeans, if people are coming in late and leaving early, don’t do it yourself. Sometimes, we are enabling behavior without evening know it. Fairness in the office is such a huge de-motivator, when people perceive they are being treated unfairly, you can expect morale to drop. You don’t want that kind of situation to present itself, and no one wants to work in a toxic work environment. Leading by example is so crucial, and if you see things that are happening around you that you don’t like, make sure you are doing tip number 3 prior to confronting employees.
There are so many lessons learned for leaders. I’d love to hear some of yours and your stories. In the meantime, be sure to check out some related leadership posts, which can be found below:
- Managing and Leading – Can You Have One Without the Other?
- 5 Traits of The Trusted Leader
- Managing the Mobile Workforce: It’s all about grapes, cucumbers, monkeys and rocks
- Leadership Is Not Programming Your Team
- Leadership Lessons from Jeremy Lin and the Linsanity Craze
- Finding the Right Combination: A Lesson in Leadership
- Are Large Public Organizations Manageable?
About seeking and providing feeback, from an art/design perspective I have spent my life hearing criticism. As an art student we would put our work up on the wall and spend whole class periods just critiquing. The best way I have found in giving some constructive criticism is beginning with a compliment. Tell them something they are doing right and then give them something (or more than one thing) to improve upon.