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THE ESSENCE OF LEADERSHIP
Todd Dewett | May 2, 2022
I’m often asked about what really matters for leadership success. At the risk of oversimplifying, I’ve landed on three main functions. Leaders help, inform, and inspire. Any other function you might think of can be reasonably subsumed by one of these three.
To help means to provide structure in the form of expectations and goals. It also means facilitating work by providing resources, coaching, and actual assistance when needed. It definitely includes empowering decision-making and looking for chances to make collaborative decisions with the team. Finally, helping is predicated on lots of listening and eventually results in creating developmental opportunities.
To inform is to give your team information that facilitates trust and productivity. It’s all about proactively embracing transparency. First, you explain your key decisions and behaviors. Don’t let them make assumptions – ever. Next, you share higher-level information, as appropriate. They need to know why certain things happened and what’s coming or being considered that might impact their work.
Finally, to inspire is to push them past mere motivation toward a stronger sense of purpose. You do this first with recognition and rewards, of course, but there’s much more. It’s about being human and compassionate. So, admit your mistakes, embrace learning, and make sacrifices. Be their advocate. Demand and model positivity. Finally, find ways to connect them to the ultimate purpose their work supports. Help them see meaning beyond the money they earn.
Leadership can feel difficult at times given the complexities of situations and personalities, but you can focus yourself just by asking whether or not you’re doing enough to help them, to inform them, and to inspire them.
Sometimes you have to learn to say no. Or, when appropriate, you can try to delay assisting someone. See if you can help them later when you’re done with whatever important thing you’re currently wrapping up. Next, you could refer them to someone who is free now or who is better suited to the task. Or, yes, sometimes you need to say no. If the task is clearly theirs and they habitually try to offload it – say no. If you’re facing a legit deadline for something vital – say no. If the work violates your values – say no. If you disagree with the underlying decision the work supports – at least consider saying no. However, to say no is not risk-free. So, when you say no, be positive, clear, and if possible, helpful (e.g., referral). If done correctly, it’s worth the risk. Otherwise, you’ll always be asked to do things you probably shouldn’t be asked to do.
WHAT’S UP WITH DR. D?
Course News: Can you believe that I have now written and performed over forty courses? These first ten years contributing to the online world of educational courses have been a blast. I’m now producing in my own studio and plan to offer forty more in the next five years. I am not yet close to sharing all of my expertise, tricks, and tips!
Speaking: I just received a note from a client who heard me speak last week. She was amazed that the entire crowd laughed and cried during the same speech. Thoughtful use of emotions is the reason. People are starved for honest and useful connections wrapped in emotions to which they can relate. Not to mention, emotions make learning stick! I think you’ll agree, we could use a little more fun, positive emotion in most workplaces – right?
Dancing with Monsters: Last time I said, “Meet Joe,” and talked about the protagonist a bit. This time, you can see him! This is a sneak peek at a possible cover image… He’s a young slick vampire who’s about to finally find himself. The next stop for the manuscript is the copy editor. Meanwhile, I continue to work on the promotional schedule. Onward and upward!
Until next time – stay safe, go learn something, maybe help someone, or at least do something interesting!