Wednesday, March 23, 2016

3 Tips on How to Up Your Game as a Leader

Cartoon of a businessman talking to an ancient Egyptian saying, "I'm sure the Pharaoh was a great guy, but I've got my own leadership style."

Sometimes it’s not your leadership style that needs to change as much as your ability to flex from one leadership situation to another. In fact, that’s what situational leadership training is all about. The proven program helps leaders understand what their followers need in order to be successful. Leaders learn how to assess and manage their followers’ performance, make the best use of their talents, and harness their motivations in each situation with an eye toward desired performance results.  In sum, it helps leaders up their game.

Are you at a point as a leader where you realize you need to operate differently in order to optimize your team’s performance and your overall influence as a leader? If so, you will need to let go of some of the previous behaviors that were not serving you well and you will need to pick up new leadership behaviors that will serve you and your team better in the future. 

Here are three situational leadership tips to transform yourself into the leader that you want and need to be:

1. Know yourself.
Be clear about how you dealt with your followers in the past: what worked and what didn’t. If you were autocratic, you may have destroyed your followers’ motivation to think on their own. If you micro-managed, you may have taken away their desire to solve problems independently. If you were lackadaisical, you may have missed opportunities to pull the team together and work collaboratively toward a common goal. Figure out just what you want to change in your behavior as a leader and what you hope to achieve as a result.

2. Tackle the challenge a little at a time.
Don’t undermine your success by trying to achieve too many changes at once. Perhaps you can begin by trying out new leadership behaviors with one team member at a time. For example, how about choosing the new employee you micro-managed to the point where they don’t dare do anything without your specific approval? Make sure they understand your expectations for the job and then be straight with them. Tell them it has been hard for you to give up control of the details but that you trust them to do a good job. Stay available for questions but back off otherwise.

3. Reflect on your progress.
If it helps to keep your eye on the prize, keep a journal of the situations in which you have tried a different way of leading. How did you behave? How did your employee react? What were the results? What is working?  What is still a struggle?

With a steady commitment to your goals and thoughtful reflection, you will become the leader you want to be…situation by situation.

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