How to make positive change: Do everything you’ve never done.
Want to know a secret?
There’s a gift and a curse behind all of your success in life and leadership. What got you to this point in your life and your career should be celebrated but it should also be challenged. Learn to challenge the good and bad parts about your development as a person and as a leader so that you aren’t hindered from growing to the next step.
Self Reflection. I have come to find in my HR career that there were certain traits that I had to acquire in order for me to be successful at the next stage even though I may not have had them or been good at them when I first reached the next step. For example, before serving a four-month term as an interim HR director for a 1,200 employee, multi-state organization, I was terrified of delivering bad news. I hated to be the bearer of bad news because I wanted to always be liked. However, wanting to be liked in the workplace sometimes has to come secondary to keeping the integrity of the workplace in tact and heck, even keeping your job! When counseling managers and employees (who were all older than me by the way) I had to get over my anxiety of leading individuals older than me. Had I not overcome these fears I wouldn’t have been able to serve in the capacity that I did and our business would’ve suffered as a a result.
Fixing What Was Needed to be Fixed. If I had not been able to deliver bad news, personnel problems could have gone from minor infractions to monstrous catastrophes. Yes, I may have been elevated to that position due do a combination of education, having proven myself in the workplace and circumstance, but there were still things I needed to become better at in order to step into the role and not fail miserably. Never underestimate the need to grow to respond to new challenges.
If you are stuck in a rut or have hit a plateau then perhaps you should change things up a bit and do everything you’ve never done.
Here are a few suggestions:
If you’ve been a talker, start listening. If you are a leader, there’s a strong chance that your followers who have something to say about your leadership. There’s probably good and probably bad. Ask your team members about your progress as a leader and see what they say as your positives and negatives.
If you’ve been slow to action, speed up. Organizations and departments on the move can only move as fast as their leadership. If you’re the type to cautiously and meticulously analyze decisions, try pulling the trigger a little bit sooner. The problem with mulling over a decision too much is that you can actually talk yourself out of a really good plan or opportunity. Paralysis by analysis is real. Take some chances and see what happens!
If you’re a micromanager or task hoarder, loosen up. If this is your mode of operation and you have been successful, I have great news – life gets so much better when you loosen up! It’s a better use of your time to teach people how to do things than trying to do them yourself. Trust your team members to do a good job, coach them, and set up quality assurance measures so that you can go on to do more leadership activity for your team.
If you want to be liked, ask yourself why. This one obviously personal but maybe you can relate. You will need to realize that whether or not someone likes you, you still have to do your job effectively. Of course not everyone is going to like “bad news” or like “change” but if it is better for them and for the organization then you must do what it takes to ensure that everyone’s best interest is taken care of.
These are just a few things to help get you started. Work with your team and a consultant to discover your leadership blind spots. It will save you time and money in the long run and even allow your team to flourish in all the ways that you might have been holding them back.
Here are a few takeaways:
Leadership Takeaway: Never be afraid to challenge every aspect of your leadership toolkit. Your team members can help you figure out blind spots that may be holding you back and sweet spots that need to be sharpened. Learn the difference between the two and adjust accordingly.
HR Takeaway: Employee engagement is tied to their response to leadership. Ensure feedback channels are open and effective to help increase productivity, motivation and retention.
Professional Development Takeaway: Learn to lead by understanding that the key to leadership is understand how to motivate people and get them to produce results. As you grow in your career, be conscious of the different factors that motivate different types of colleagues.