Everyone uses tools. They are designed to make you more efficient or help you create products with higher quality. Using “tools” in your leadership role involves the same concept. While not all tools are used all the time, an effective leader not only has these in their “leadership toolbox” but knows when and how to use them. Here is a list of leadership tools for consideration.
First, stop thinking about accountability as something that is done to someone else only when something has gone wrong. I know that is tough to do because we see horrid examples of that in our media. Typically when we see someone on television demanding “accountability” what they really mean is, “We want someone fired.” Instead, think of accountability as a process that is used on a daily basis that involves leaders ensuring employees know the job description, know the performance standards, and are given regular feedback about their performance. Not only are followers accountable for behavior but also for accomplishing their goals and organizationally related job tasks in ethically productive ways. A pat on the back for a job well done is accountability!
Trust means that you believe that the other person will not intentionally try to hurt or deceive you. Effective leadership occurs when there is a positive relationship between leader and follower. Mutual trust has proven to be an essential component of a positive leader-follower relationship. Followers tend to trust leaders who keep their word and commitments, publicly admit their mistakes and surround themselves with others who can be trusted. Leaders must consistently take the high road in ethically gray areas and refuse to participate in any areas of deception.
Feedback is best viewed as information shared by a leader to their followers about their performance. It can be both positive and corrective in nature and should be given as soon after the behavior or performance occurs. Feedback also helps to keep lines of communication open and allows the follower to know how they are doing. To quote Arnold Dhanesar, Senior VP and Head of Global Talent Management at Met-Life, “Feedback is a gift… give it often”.
This tool centers on the actions by the leader that indicate considerations and feelings of others. It means that you spend time developing rapport and actively listen to your followers. Appreciate and allow differences, especially between you and your followers. Carefully choose your words either spoken or written. We’ve had a saying in law enforcement for years, “The words which rise easiest to your lips will be the ones you most regret.”
Goals help followers to focus on specific measurable tasks. Focusing on goals increases overall motivation and job satisfaction. Leaders who help followers identify and focus on goals enhance both productivity and morale. Think back to the best leaders you have had. Chances are they not only helped you learn and understand your job but helped you understand where you could go in the job to benefit your career.
Communication is both a tool of leadership and a skill of leadership. As a tool, it allows or enables a leader to achieve the desired results or outcomes of leadership. As a skill, it involves the overall quality or success a leader has in their communication efforts. To lead successfully, a leader must be able to communicate both successfully and openly with followers. Discuss issues facing the team and not just orders, policies or announcements. Make time to listen actively to follower’s opinions and concerns. Go up the chain of command to find answers to questions your followers have that you cannot answer. When leaders communication more openly, honestly, and sincerely with followers the followers are more productive and responsive to requests from leaders.
Next week I’ll talk about adding an “accelerator” that can be combined with these tools for an even better result!