2021 accomplishments

Where Do You Want to Go? Take Responsibility For Your Own Professional Development (Part 3)

In the past week, we’ve talked about two prerequisites to becoming a great leader: developing a growth mindset and learning how to manage yourself first

These two habits are the foundations on which you’ll develop future skills and competencies. With a growth mindset, you’ll be better equipped to learn from the challenges and difficulties you face.  And learning to manage yourself effectively will help you set a good example for your team and foster an environment in which they can succeed.

With these foundations in place, you’ll be fully prepared for future growth and development.

This week, we’re going to talk about where to focus your growth efforts — and how to build the competencies that will make you a more successful, effective leader.

The 4 Power Skills of Great Leaders

Great leaders share a core set of skills, traits, and competencies. These skills will help you enlist support, produce better results, and influence those around you — in any situation and with any team.

In fact, these power skills are foundational to your professional success in every role. Whether you have “official” authority or not, these competencies will help you get things done (and done well).

1. Effectiveness

Your effectiveness reflects your ability to ensure that the right work gets done at the right time. Effective leaders are strong critical thinkers and problem-solvers. They’re highly attuned to organizational priorities, and they approach projects and initiatives strategically.  They’re flexible, eager to learn, and driven to improve processes and outcomes.

Effectiveness is a key measure of success for any leader or staff member because it directly impacts the quality of their output. More often than not, effective leaders are able to deliver the outcomes that stakeholders want, expect, and need — and that makes them invaluable additions to any team. 

2.  Leading Others

Unfortunately, not all managers and leaders have the skills to truly lead others.  Good leaders know how to enlist others in their vision, build authentic relationships, delegate effectively, and outline a roadmap for success.

Above all, good leaders work to support and enable their teams, providing them with mentorships, empathy, guidance, and accountability.  In every action, they model commitment to their team, the project, and the organization.

3.  Collaboration

We can do more together than we can separately. As Helen Keller said “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.

Good leaders facilitate the team’s progress toward a goal, support efforts to solve problems, manage conflict, and promote an atmosphere of respect and cooperation.

Collaborative team cultures rarely happen by accident.  They are fostered by leaders and team members who recognize the importance of collaboration to achieving organizational goals.

4.  Communication

Good leaders are always good communicators. They listen carefully, ask questions from a place of curiosity, and communicate clearly. They respond proactively, speak candidly but diplomatically, and remain alert to implicit communication and potential bias.

Good communication is all but inextricable from other leadership power skills — it’s what leaders rely on to build trust, create strong relationships, and enlist others in their vision for the future.

These four skills are foundational to your ability to lead your team, meet your goals, and deliver exceptional results on all your projects and initiatives. You’ll certainly need to develop other domain-specific knowledge and skills — but without these core competencies, you’ll struggle to get the results you desire.

5 Steps to Becoming a Strong Leader

It’s easy enough to say that leaders should demonstrate effectiveness or communicate clearly.  But how do you actually build these kinds of soft skills?

I recommend my CLEAR Leadership method.

1.  Clarify

Get super clear on where you have skills gaps and where you want to grow. (Check out the assessment questions I shared last week for help zeroing in your own weak spots.) Establish goals for yourself and for your team.

2.  Lead

Only through strong relationships will you attain your goals — so start there. Map out your professional relationships to identify those team members, stakeholders, and supervisors whose buy-in you most need.  And then reach out to those people with a goal of building more trust, alignment, and engagement.

Learn how to facilitate meetings and elicit the information you need to clarify your approach, plan, and outcomes. Create a vision and plan that the team can get behind to accelerate results for the organization.

With an engaged team, strong relationships, and a clear vision, you’ll have the tools you need to work effectively and respond agilely to new changes.

3.  Elevate

Bring more intentionality to your day and to your leadership, so you can maximize your team’s performance.  Implement daily and weekly planning sessions, so that you can be sure your team is doing the right work at the right time. Lead your team thoughtfully and intentionally, so that the work you’re doing remains aligned with the organizational strategy.

4.  Align

Institute a practice of continual reflection and assessment, so as to maximize your effectiveness. As you get clearer about your own performance and development, you’ll find that you have more confidence in your abilities and are better able to respond flexibly when faced with unexpected change. 

5.  Results

Take action to accelerate results. As you learn more about what works for you and your team, you can begin looking for more ways to enhance performance and improve deliverables.

Develop a roadmap for attaining these improvements, and lead your team on a quest for continuous improvement. Once you’re in the habit of doing so, you’ll ensure that you and your team more consistently hit targets and deliver exceptional results.

By adopting a growth mindset and learning to lead yourself first, you’ll prime yourself to make big strides in developing and refining the power skills that the most successful leaders bring to the table.  And when you apply the CLEAR framework to your skill development, you’ll foster these key competencies in yourself throughout the year.

Plus, the benefits go far beyond simply improving your leadership skills.  All these competencies are multipliers, enabling you to get more leverage from each interaction, each resource, and each opportunity.  You’ll find that hitting your targets and timelines requires less stress, effort, and overwork — because you’ve laid strong foundations that make all your goals more attainable.

 

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