By Marcel Schwantes – Inc.
Can you imagine working for someone in a high-level management role and suddenly it dawns on you: This person isn’t leadership caliber. Your next thought maybe, How in the world did he (or she) make it this far up the ladder?
It’s a fair question. Managers are promoted to esteemed leadership roles every day who have no business being there.
Sometimes it’s political or favoritism; other times it’s the easier choice — promote from within and avoid the high cost of recruitment — but a bad choice, nonetheless.
Sure, good managers may know how to effectively manage the nuts and bolts of the work (a project, scope, budget, timeline) and drive people to results, but can they actually lead human beings to grow as people, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous (in the words of servant leadership pioneer Robert K. Greenleaf)?
3 clear ways to raise your leadership bar high
When you walk the talk of good leadership, your people will release discretionary effort. They can’t help it–they want to work for you. This means creating a positive, autonomous (not fear-centered) environment that will elevate the employee experience to new heights. These are typically opportunities for growth and development for managers.
1. Leaders facilitate a shared purpose
Good leaders communicate an image of the future that draws in the employee — that speaks to what they’re seeing and feeling. They give their team a destination that helps the team know where they’re headed at all times.
They make sure the team operates by shared values they all agreed on — the very principles that guide the team’s decisions and actions on their daily journey.
With these components clearly defined for the whole team, a tremendous amount of energy, passion, and productivity is unleashed.
2. Leaders share their power
Because good leaders have real relationships built on two-way trust, they are able to share their power and release their positional control by serving the needs of their tribe first. They know it isn’t about them, and, in turn, employee loyalty is high.
Instead of leveraging positional power for personal gain, self-promotion, or special privileges, good leaders place their people in positions of leadership to stretch their growth and develop new strengths and roles for them.
3. Leaders foster a learning spirit
People’s development is not a separate retention activity enforced by HR. It’s ingrained in the mindset of good leaders. Obviously, this is a good business strategy, as it will increase team performance.
But beyond that, developing people is a goal of leadership in and of itself. It’s a way of being. And this is how great leaders do it:
- They identify their employees’ gifts, talents, strengths, and personality types for the best job fit, so they can reach their potential.
- They champion a learning spirit within the organization, sending a clear message that “growing our people is one of our highest priorities.”
- They provide ongoing training, coaching, and mentoring opportunities that are aligned with job purpose, performance measures, and fulfilling the organizational mission.