Consider this for a moment: as you move through any company or profession, you begin to learn that no matter how powerful your individual contributions may be, you will always be able to get more things done and have a bigger impact with and through other people. That’s the greatest responsibility and where the real power of leadership comes in. Because to do this requires you to be able to motivate others to voluntarily follow you, and willingly apply their talents and energy towards a goal that you have set out for them.
In talking with a friend with whom I have collaborated, we started to identify a few common traits that really good leaders seem to have. I like to group them in four different ways:
- What’s the big picture? Even though you might contribute to your company’s success by providing expertise in whatever area or function you help lead, it is always more powerful to take the widest possible view of your organization. Try to see how all the pieces fit together. This will make the part of the company that you lead even more supportive of what the entire company is trying to do.
- Be clear on what really matters. In any company, it can seem like there are thousands of competing priorities on any given day. The value you can add is to be as clear as possible with your team about what the precious few priorities are that will help the overall company succeed.
- Embrace storytelling as a way to get ideas across. Business can be complicated, and even more so if you try to share an idea using the words or lingo of the area that you lead. Instead, try different ways to share your ideas, maybe in a more general way, maybe sometimes with pictures or sketches. Ultimately, you want to be able to pivot how you communicate your ideas to best match how others like to consume information.
- Track and measure what success should look like. This means making sure that you are identifying the right metrics to indicate whether or not your area is delivering on the priorities that you establish. And not just the same standard metrics for each project or priority. Select the ones that will be leading indicators of whether your team’s efforts are a success. Be focused with this and hold others – and yourself – accountable to ensure the priority is met.
As you embrace your own responsibility for what you lead, think about these traits and how they might help to better empower you and your team.
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