Great leaders translate vision into decisive action — a skill that's especially vital in tough times. But what are those skills? Do you have a blind spot? Should you be doing more? First off — great leaders do three things — no more, no less:
- They motivate their people.
- They deliver information when required.
- They help their people with obstacles.
That's it. As a leader, if you find yourself doing anything else, you're doing too much. Now let's look at each one:
They motivate their people.
The most successful leaders are those with the best people skills, especially during the most difficult circumstances. Poor communication and interpersonal relationships routinely thwart leaders who are otherwise technically competent. In order to succeed, leaders must be fully engaged with the individuals who make up their organization. This means an array of capabilities like coaching, mentoring and how to give constructive feedback which reinforces the behavior and motivation of your peak performers. The best tool to learn how to motivate is Dale Carnegie's: How to Win Friends and Influence People.
They deliver information when required.
What does this really mean? Incredibly efficient two-way communication. And the cruel joke is that most leaders had the chops to make their way up the ladder and succeed — now the skills that got them there (getting things done) have no place in leadership. You now have to communicate to your team to get things done. This is where most C- and VP level executives fail - you need to lead with greater impact by applying emotional intelligence to manage your team. The best tool to effectively communicate is Daniel Goleman's: Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
They help their people with obstacles.
Here's the mistake all leaders make. When their people come to them with a problem — they spend time helping them brainstorm, choose and sometimes execute a solution. I've seen this happen time and time again. Great leaders ask their people to come to them when they have a problem, but they also require their people to come with a solution too. 80-90% of the time, that solution is usually the best one and the team member is further empowered to make those tough decisions. On the off chance (that 10-20%) that your people might be wrong, you're there to help them investigate other options. For optimal delegation, seek out Michael Abrashoff's: It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy.
At the end of the day, you need to build a leadership style that creates trust, sets a clear vision and guides your entire team toward greater performance and profit.