- You’re Allowed to Explain. You’re Not Allowed to Excuse.
Don’t make the mistake of excusing your bad behaviors – no matter how small – but do let your people know the story that helps explain the bad behavior. Be clear that you are explaining, not excusing. It’s a powerful difference and your people will appreciate the clarification.
- The Platinum Rule Works So Much Better Than the Golden Rule
Don’t treat others the way you want to be treated … instead, treat others the way they want to be treated (to the extent possible). Get out of your ego and realize what motivates and inspires you doesn’t necessarily work the same for your people. Ask them, specifically, what floats their boat – get clear on their unique motivational thumbprints.
- Maslow Was Right
Keep in mind that if that first level of Maslow’s Hierarchy is not satisfied, nothing else matters. If your people are struggling with meeting their basic physiological needs, i.e., putting food on the table, clothes on their backs, and/or a roof over their heads, none of your team-building and culture-building will make one bit of real difference. Ensuring equitable fair pay and compensation is fundamental to great leadership.
- They’re Always Watching
Are you managing what people are saying about you when you’re not in the room? As a great leader, you need to nurture your own “brand”. Ask trusted people in your organization and on your team how people describe and talk about you behind your back. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s such an important one. We have so many blind spots – illuminate some of them so you impact the narrative that’s out there about you.
- You Need Your Own BMW
The Gallup top 12 employee engagement questions are still true – and number 10, “Do I have a best friend at work?” is as true for you as a leader as it is for your people. Do you have someone that you can drive a BMW with – someone that you can Bitch, Moan, and Whine with? We all need that space and person to just let it all out. Don’t hold it all in – find that trusted “best friend”. You need one!
- Don’t Go Dark
The negativity bias we all have hardwired into our brains is such an easy default for your people – and for you! Consciously and deliberately, lift up the positive in life and work. We all too easily are seduced into “complaint connecting” with each other. Fight it! Find the positive and shine a light on it whenever you can.
- Leaders Need to Manage (And Managers Need to Lead)
In my experience, this is one of the biggest gaps in what a great leader needs to understand. Leaders are often promoted into their roles without any real management training. Learning how to run a great meeting is just as important as knowing how to create a compelling vision. Learning how to give and receive direct 1:1 feedback is just as important as executing a strategic plan. Don’t minimize the importance of being skilled in management best practices. (Check out the BEST BOSS BOOTCAMP for how we do that with our clients!)
- Authenticity is Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be
My last blog really dives into this HUGE misconception that enabling people to “bring your full and authentic self to work” is the gold standard of leadership. Instead, ask your people to bring their most effective selves to work. Ask them to make informed responsible choices in what version of their full authentic selves they want to bring to their work. Support them in staying true to their own deeply held personal values, staying fully in their integrity, and being the most effective version of themselves possible.
- Vulnerability is Strength
Brené Brown got it right in her now famous TED talk – and it’s one of the hardest lessons for leaders to understand – showing weakness and a willingness to be wrong strengthens your leadership impact. It doesn’t diminish it. Your people need to see your humanity and humility to fully respect you. It’s a strategic move to make sure that at least once a day you’re showing vulnerability and humility to your people – letting them know continuous growth and learning is what you expect for them – and for yourself.
- None of It Matters If You Don’t Do This
You’ve heard it before, but you need to hear it again. If you’re not intentionally, and with discipline, taking care of yourself, then you’re a terrible leader. Period. The trifecta for self-care is SLEEP, NUTRITION, and EXERCISE. You MUST pay attention to all three of these, making sure you’re getting enough of each. This is true not only because great leaders role-model these behaviors, but because if you’re not allowing for your own radical self-care, you’re doing a disservice to your people. They need you to be physically (and emotionally) strong and resourced to lead them most effectively. If you’re not at your best, then you’re not giving your best. Period.