By Joel Garfinkle
“Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts … it is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.” ~ Chris Hadfield
A lot has been written recently about the differences between good management and great leadership. We could identify all the philosophies that highlight the qualities of a great leader, but that still leaves the question — what do great leaders do? If you’ve been struggling with taking those next steps in honing the habits that will help you to inspire, elevate and motivate your team, read on. Here are six jobs great leaders do every day in the pursuit of top-performing players.
- Be a shepherd. You know how things get done. Whether your company is loosely organized or big on formal processes, you have learned how to navigate the steps necessary to get the resources you need, achieve buy-in from stakeholders and make things happen. As a leader, the next step is to guide others through those secret and not-so-secret moves required for success. Relationships are critical to great leadership, so help set others on a similar path.
- Be a mentor. As a manager, sometimes it can be all-consuming just making sure the day-to-day tasks get done. It can be tempting to focus any remaining energy on the underachievers, making sure they get the skills and motivation they need to get up to speed. Inspiring others to become great leaders, however, requires that we spend time mentoring the rising stars on the team – making sure they have the tools they need to grow and achieve.
- Be an investor. We may be lured into spending training dollars, development days and our precious attention on minimum skills and basic knowledge. Instead, consider who on your team could benefit from executive coaching, leadership conferences or in-house opportunity. Investing your own and the company’s time on the best and brightest can be as simple as allowing them to work with the bigger players in your organization — high-profile projects, committees or even presentations you might otherwise do yourself. Invest in your employees’ futures and watch them grow.
- Be an advocate. Just as you need leaders to speak for you, your team needs someone to tout them to higher ups. Advocate for your team members by mentioning their accomplishments to the decision makers, putting forward their names for high-profile projects and making sure their names are top of mind for new positions and opportunities.
- Be a magnet. There are those leaders that we remember our entire career, not for the big things they did, but for the small ways in which they improved the teams and projects they were on. The best way to foster great leaders is to attract great people. Work on your own skills in providing service to support those working with you. When you’re known for helping others and supporting everyone to success, the best candidates will be drawn to work with you.
- Be a seeker. Don’t know the answer? Ask your team. Great leaders are not those who know it all, but those who know how to ask the right questions. Often, organizations have a huge wealth of information in the employees, but it goes untapped because no one in authority ever thought to ask. Be someone who leverages the knowledge capital of your team. Not only will you benefit from having all the answers, the bright stars on your team will shine by adding value to the project or organization. Be sure to give credit when sharing with your own peers and supervisors.
The best leaders work tirelessly in service to those they are leading.