Wednesday, April 26, 2023

8 Strategies to Boost Your Leadership Impact at Work

leadership-impact-at-workAs a business consultant and mentor to many young entrepreneurs, I often get questions about leadership challenges, and what you can do to solidify your leadership position and impact. It seems that today’s worker generation is more demanding, and less willing to accept guidance and direction from anyone with a leadership title. They want a role in every leadership decision.

There is no question that the business world has changed from a “command and control” environment, to a much more collaborative one based on values and team empowerment. There are no easy answers to leadership challenges, but I was moved by the insights presented in a new book, “Don’t Wait for Someone Else to Fix It,” by Doug Lennick and Chuck Wachendorfer.

Based on their long careers assisting in leadership development with large companies as well as small, they detail eight keys to enhancing your leadership impact at work, home, and anywhere else that needs you. I will outline and paraphrase their recommendations here, with my own insights added as follows:

  1. Live in alignment with principle-driven values. Living in alignment is shorthand for the notion of aiming to live your business life as closely as possible to the principles and values that guide you, your personal goals, and the decisions you make to achieve your goals. The behavior you display to constituents determines your leadership effectiveness.

    Don’t expect to fool anyone into following you when you say one thing and regularly do something else. To build a following, you have to be authentic, trustworthy, and do something worth following, as well as communicate effectively to your potential followers.

  2. Maintain a self-awareness of your leadership. Be realistic about your real self, including weaknesses as well as strengths, failures as well as successes. Pay attention to feedback from others, as well as how your emotions impact your thinking. Today’s world demands that you lead up, down, and across, to get your constituents to follow.

    Nearly all business leaders, no matter how much success they have, face blindspots in their personal and business lives. It's common for all of us to focus externally to solve our issues rather than looking within ourselves. Looking hard within is painful but effective.

  3. Ignite integrity and responsibility in teams. The key to integrity is your willingness to tell it like it is, with genuine reasons for hope and optimism. If you keep your promises, this encourages others around you to take responsibility for their actions and become leaders also. Serve others by providing resources and by helping them grow their skills.

  4. Embrace empathy and compassion for people. Empathy and compassion start with your awareness and understanding of another person’s challenging thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The next steps include overtly helping your followers, making sure they understand that you care, and moving forward with them in a shared sense of purpose.

  5. Make decisions without biases and emotions. The way you make wise decisions is to first consistently gather relevant data, then identify options, a make a decision, and then follow-through to implementation. Always do this in the context of the big picture and values, and be willing to reframe your thinking as needed, based on input from others.

  6. Cultivate mental agility and a learning mindset. Experts have found that your willingness to “let go of what you know” is the overarching component of learning agility. Top leaders are always intensely curious, even to the point of being uncomfortable in pursuit of growth, and this motivation to learn is characterized as a learning mindset.

  7. Build a plan and achieve purposeful goals. Your visibility in building and executing a plan to achieve purposeful goals is a major key to being perceived as having leadership intelligence. Once you have this recognition, don’t forget to “pay it forward” by finding ways to help others achieve their goals and improve their leadership ability and following.

  8. Clarify expectations and empower others to lead. The essence of empowerment is that when team members are empowered, they are encouraged to act and lead with authority, make decisions, and perform various acts consistent with their competence and motivation. Empowerment done right ramps up your leadership results as well as theirs.

Above all, remember that every leadership journey has setbacks, so expect some bumps in the road. Always be reflective to figure out what caused your setback, don’t be afraid to reframe your approach, and rebound with courage and determination. Don’t forget to help followers manage their own setbacks, and you will both emerge stronger to lead us into the next millennium.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 04/12/2023 ***



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