When you are in charge (and whether you like it or not) everyone looks to you for a “mood reading” every day. What you bring into work flows down to everyone in your reporting stream. If you’re having a toxic day, that affects your team – the same is true when you’re having a good day.
Since the biggest excuse I hear from managers is that “I don’t have the time,” let me offer some quick things you can do daily to improve your leadership presence and build more positivity into your day and your team.
- Set Clear Expectations. Wishes, hopes, or assumptions have no place in performance conversations. When you make a request, take an extra few seconds to be sure that the individual understands A) what is to be done, B) any timeframe or deadlines, and C) how success will be measured/assessed. As a matter of practice, ask people to repeat back what THEY think they have just committed to do. You will dramatically reduce misunderstandings when you pay attention to all three aspects of a request.
- Close Loops – every time. When work gets completed, have one of two quick conversations: either, A) “Thanks” (or other form of acknowledgement), or B) “This is not what we agreed to. Can we talk?” I may risk oversimplification here, but the reality is that 90% of issues come from NOT closing loops – so if the work is not done, say so; and if the work is completed, say so. You train your team to know that when they make a commitment, you do pay attention and you do appreciate their efforts (don’t assume they know).
- Make Something Better. One of the best managers who ever worked on my team was Reggie. What made him great – and what caused his teams to adore him – was his simple mantra: “I never leave until I’ve made something better.” Be like Reggie, and become a master of proactive improvement. If you keep your eyes and ears open you will notice opportunities every day – many of them brought to your attention by your people. Sometimes it will be a process tweak, while other days you may find the most productive part of your day is the five minutes you spent helping an associate with a personal challenge. All that little stuff adds up.
- Expect More of People (than they do of themselves). If you are like most people, you are your own worst critic. It’s the voice in your head that every day tells you you’re not good enough or that you messed up. Take a minute or two every day to speak with someone on your team and remind them about something you think they do well, or a reason you’re glad they are on the team. Try saying, “we could not have done this without you.” It takes but a second, yet people will run thru brick walls for someone who really believes in them.
- Inspire Someone. Inspire comes from the Latin, inspiro, v. to breathe into life/Breathe life into. Each time you communicate future news to your team (which you should be doing regularly) you offer a reason for them to stick around. Even more, when you have a discussion about their own future, you breathe life into their hopes and dreams for their career. Don’t wait till the annual review – do a little of this every week, and notice how much your conversations improve the mood of your team.
- Reminder: First, Take Care of You. Refer back to the just prior post on this blog; make sure you’re attending to your own needs. If you’re in a more positive mood each day when you show up, you infect others with your enthusiasm and energy, and that feeds their creativity, their connection, and their willingness to work hard. Research proves this is true, and once again, it’s all about you.
Remember, Leadership is not about a title: Anyone can be a leader who practices positive leadership conversations every day.