Here's a really simple way to measure the strength of your executive leadership skills. Ask your people to name 3 important reasons why they enjoy working with you.
Most leaders find it acceptable to be viewed as a “nice", “friendly" or “clever" person.
Others prefer to be “hands-off" - you know the type of boss who lets us do our work the way we choose to do it - the leader who wants our work done and doesn't care to be bothered with the hows or whys of our doing it.
Some or all of the above traits may fit into your patterns of leading but are those leadership attributes and styles being fair to your people or helping your mission?
The real question is this: How is your leadership adding value to, improving the quality in and nurturing the growth of your organization?
Here are 3 potent steps you can take in your leadership practice to become a value-oriented, quality-focused, growth-driven leader.
First Action-Step - How Do You Know?
As Professor Thomas Davenport points out, ". . . if you want your economy [or organization] to grow, your knowledge workers had better be doing a good job. " If your people are doing good work, how do you know that they are?
So your first leadership action is one of discovery - you must explore ways to find out
=> How are your people performing their work
=> What tasks, activities, objectives and priorities are people working on
=> Why are people doing what they are doing
=> When are people doing their work, and
=> Where your people are focusing their best efforts during the performance of their duties.
When you take the time ask, challenge or inquire with questions that demand open-ended answers, you will get a clearer picture of the value, quality and competence of your group's actions.
"Approach each new problem not with a view of finding what you hope will be there, but to get the truth, the realities that must be grappled with. You may not like what you find. In that case you are entitled to try to change it. But do not deceive yourself as to what you do find to be the facts of the situation. "
- Bernard Baruch
Second Action-Step - What Do You Draw When You Picture Your Mind's Eye?
"Everything you can imagine is real. I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them. " - Pablo Picasso
Executive leadership constantly strives to envision, imagine and conceive images of what comes next - what many of us call “tomorrow".
Give yourself permission to ask: "What kinds of future outcomes do we think will produce the best things for ours, yours and mine?"
In your visioning pursuits and statements, you may wish to include any and all of the following items:
=> Ways to inspire your people to seek higher ideals
=> Ways to unite your people in their efforts towards making the world a better place
=> Ways to encourage, empower or engage your people to confidently and persistently act with integrity
=> Ways to reap the benefits of working in fellowship, harmony and peace with others
=> Ways to establish, expand and enhance your “frameworks of possibilities" [where meanings, visions and environments of possible outcomes are considered, spoken and practiced - adapted from “The Art of Possibility" by Rosamund S. and Benjamin Zander]
Third Action-Step - How Much Did We Create Today?
Innovation, ingenuity, invention are the new currencies in our highly competitive Knowledge Economy. Being creative for creativity's sake is not the object of the exercise.
Rather, your creations should translate themselves into products of greater efficiencies, effectiveness or resourcefulness.
One company's slogan is: "where do you want to go today?" Instead of that question, you might ask yourself: "where did our creativity lead us to today?"
Author Mark Twain [Samuel Clemens] observed: "A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds. " Without putting your ideas into practice, your creative efforts will be in vain.
Follow the lead of another Twainism: "Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident. "
Use your failures, missteps, mistakes and misunderstandings to innovate, intuit or invent new approaches and more appropriate solutions.
"A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. "
- Henry David Thoreau
If you take Thoreau's advice to heart, you will find ways to employ this article's actions and suggestions in your daily exercise of leadership.
After 35-years worth of grappling with Information Technology projects and operational challenges, I have discovered one cardinal rule about leadership: learn how to do it better or resign yourself to getting lost!
So are you ready to begin your executive leadership adventure? Will you commit your energies, ideas and heart to the pursuit of excellence?
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new. " - Steve Jobs
Be the leader who pushes the bar higher while making it worthy of taking a “quantum leap" beyond its limits for good of all your people.
Copyright © 2005, Mustard Seed Investments Inc. ,
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Bill Thomas energizes, empowers and enhances the leadership skills of thousands using in-depth, cost-effective, 100% guaranteed performance improvement workshops, programs, books, tools and educational services. Pick-up your free copy of his Leadership Power-Tips, online e-book and become the best leader you're willing to be. All-the-Tools-You-Need-to-Lead-&-Succeed!