People often ask me how I create the mindset that I need to lead a department or company. For me, it’s a combination of six factors: collaboration, communication, time management, attitude, focus and balance.
When people feel heard and play a role in whatever project you are working on, you will have buy-in and ownership. These elements are instrumental to building confidence and conviction among team members.
I believe in the ability to have open and transparent communication within your team—this is an integral part of being successful. This level of communication builds trust and, ultimately, efficiency and effectiveness as a team. While there has been much written on communications best practices, I find authenticity and fact-based communication work best. When you serve in a management capacity and are not always able to share everything, to the extent that you can be genuine and provide clarity and honesty, your people will trust you to do what is right for them.
Much has been written about human capacity to focus on a task. Tony Schwartz the president and CEO of The Energy Project, Harvard Business Review contributor and author of Be Excellent at Anything; for example, talks about a 90-minute focus, during which time he shuts down distractions from emails and calls to do his work. This is an important principle for leaders who are often running from meeting to meeting and dealing with daily, shifting business crises. During my meetings I take notes to make sure that my “action time” is truly actionable. I also try and hold an hour first thing in the morning as sacred time to evaluate all the tasks that I must accomplish that day.
First, I like to use meditation to clear my mind for what’s ahead. Then, each morning, I remind myself of how I’ll measure success. I think about what impact I want to have on people and my legacy to whatever position I am currently holding and how that corresponds to the future of the company. Since I travel quite a bit, I often use that time. I remind myself that being a leader is at the discretion of those I serve, and none of us are irreplaceable. I want to be a positive and driving force for my company and with regard to the people I lead, I want to enrich their lives in the process.
Ultimately, everyone needs to establish goals. Goals for the business, goals for performance, goals for culture and goals for service; long-term goals, short-term goals and daily goals, the more goals you articulate the more focus you will have in your daily life. So as not to become overwhelmed, prioritization is key as well as collaboration with and trust in one’s team in accomplishing what they have been delegated.
In guiding employees and suppliers:
- Explain what needs to be done with details,
- Give deadlines and interim deadlines,
- Map out a suggested course of action and resources,
- Lay out the expected results and outcomes to be achieved and, most importantly,
- Explain why this endeavor is of critical importance.
- Acquire conscientious among team members and stakeholders
There is plenty of information available about your health and its impact on performance. I maintain a strict diet and exercise regimen to help me look and feel my best. A person cannot sit for 40+ hours a week and not exercise – studies have shown dire consequences. And I personally know the impact of allowing those meetings to take priority over my personal exercise regime. Work/life balance is beneficial for the self, the team and the company.
Balance extends to family and friends too. I am incredibly thankful for the support and comfort I have found in those who are close to me and, as a result, make sure that when I am needed, I am there for them in a timely manner.
Leadership Best Practices
Every leader has weaknesses – we’re only human! But it’s important to continuously invest in leadership best practices. Some key components I’ve found are:
Priority – by assigning high, medium or low priority to every task, and try to make sure that my team knows what I’m thinking.
Personal – my team is comprised of people with their own lives, challenges, families and celebrations and I want our relationships to reflect their priorities. I know this seems out of fashion, but I do care about people and their careers.
Champion – people need to know that I’ve got their backs and will fight to make sure they are recognized for their efforts.
Trust – no one can be everywhere at once, and I’ve got to trust my team to have executed on our priorities.
Balance – again, my team’s work/life balance is important. I want them to know that their health and time spent recharging and with family is important to me, and to the company.
Decisions – business must keep moving forward. People look to me to make the hard decisions, and sometimes those have to be made on-the-spot. I try to base my decisions about brand values and brand promise through the eyes of the customer always.
I would be interested to learn what you, as a leader, do differently. I would be interested to learn what you, as a team member, expect from your leaders!