Category

success

How to build your confidence as a leader

How to build your confidence as a leader

I’ve heard about the benefits of meditation for years, and about seven years ago, I bought a book on how to meditate. It sat on my bookshelf for several more years as I accumulated additional books on meditation and mindfulness. Eventually, I started reading a few of these books, becoming more knowledgeable on meditation techniques and practices. But I still wasn’t meditating! It wasn’t until two years ago that I finally took action and enrolled in a meditation course. Once I started actually doing meditation, I started to experience the benefits and now I meditate (almost) daily. All those years of learning, studying, and contemplating meditation didn’t bring results; it was taking action that was important.

One of the most important characteristics of successful people is that they have a bias for action. What holds many professionals back from success is spending too much time planning, preparing, thinking, organizing, analyzing and procrastinating, and not taking action. Action is required for success. This doesn’t mean that successful people don’t plan and organize, but once they have a plan in place, they don’t wait for things to be perfect to move into action.

Leadership is an action. Leadership is not a title or a position. It’s not a hat you put on every day when you come into the office. True, exceptional leadership requires you to do something. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone and making your vision and goals a reality.

What does leadership in action look like?

  • Providing meaningful feedback to your employees—both positive and constructive.
  • Coaching your employees to bring out their best performance.
  • Challenging that employee who tries to upward delegate a task to you, instead of doing the task yourself.
  • Walking around and connecting with each individual.
  • Building relationships with your colleagues.
  • Modeling the behaviors and actions you expect of others.
  • Communicating clarity about goals and sharing what the success factors are.
  • Following up and following through—doing what you say you will do.
  • Being accountable and taking ownership.
  • Mentoring and sharing knowledge to develop your staff.
  • Being approachable and supportive.
  • Prioritizing people—scheduling coaching sessions and check-ins with your staff.

Leadership is not sitting in an office and creating a strategy and business plan. While that’s an important first step, it is not what brings results. A great vision on paper does nothing. A great vision communicated clearly and repeatedly through multiple channels inspires collaboration and results. Great leadership requires action.

I am often asked by participants in my leadership programs how you can build confidence. Whether you are new in a management position, or a seasoned executive, the best way to build your confidence is to take action. To succeed at anything in life, you have to first do something. If you stand on the sidelines and play it safe, you will not learn anything. In order to get feedback and learn from mistakes, you must make mistakes. You can read hundreds of books on leadership and attend classes on how to be a good manager. But if you don’t put that knowledge into action, you will not see the results. Leadership requires effort.

One of my favorite quotes is from Jim Rohn, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do. That is the difference between success and failure.”

It’s not hard to schedule coaching sessions, model great behaviors, take ownership, and connect with your employees. But it’s easy to not do these things. Successful people don’t have more time in the day than anyone else. They understand that an essential skill for success is to prioritize and take action on what is important. That is how you build your knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, and ultimately your confidence.

Instead of reading this blog and closing your browser, take two minutes right now to take action on an important task that will lead you to the results you want. You will be one step closer to success.

The Leadership Detox

yoga-The Leadership Detox

I love this time of year—warm weather is (almost) here, the flowers are starting to bloom (unless you’re in the Northeast!) and Cadbury Cream Eggs are available in stores. I have a weakness for those chocolaty eggs, and my family and friends know it. On the way home from the gym last week, I stopped at the store to buy (and quickly eat) two Cadbury Cream Eggs. When I arrived home, my husband had left me a gift—a box of four cream eggs. I indulged some more.

With Easter over, my husband and I are now on a health detox to get back on track. A detox helps to rid your body of toxic or unhealthy substances. A detox cleanses your body to reset your metabolism and feel more energized and healthy.

As leaders, most of us tend to slip into negative habits that don’t serve us. These habits keep us from operating at an exceptional level.

Much like a health detox leaves you feeling more refreshed, focused, and more energized, by identifying our unhealthy leadership habits, we can detox old or negative leadership habits, so we can work at our peak and feel more focused, energized, and successful.

Although there are many negative habits that can hold leaders back from success, there are three common ones that keep leaders from working at their peak and making a positive difference with their employees and in their credit union:

  1. Lack of focus: most leaders struggle to prioritize their many projects and tasks, and feel overwhelmed.
  2. Lack of delegation: many leaders struggle to operate at a strategic level. We often think the value we bring to the organization is our technical expertise, but often that expertise is what holds us back. To be an exceptional leader, we need to focus on leading and influencing our team towards results—through coaching, developing, and giving meaningful feedback. As a leader, you are a facilitator, not a fixer. Meaning, a leader should focus on facilitating peak performance from the team, rather than getting in the weeds and fixing technical issues.
  3. Lack of team engagement: Most leaders are so busy, that the people side of business—coaching, feedback, development conversations—gets put on the back burner while they deal with operational issues. Or perhaps that struggling employee is taking up most of your time and resources. Many managers take their best employees for granted and don’t invest time coaching or developing them.

To begin your detox, read through the sections below to eliminate your negative leadership habits and replace them with positive habits that will support your leadership success.

Gaining Clarity

The ability to focus is the most important skill for leadership today. To be able to focus, you need clarity. If you don’t have clarity around the strategic, departmental, or daily goals, you will spin your wheels, spend your days putting out fires, and not get anything of value accomplished. Yet most leaders operate this way.

Most leaders are activity focused, not results focused.

If you don’t have clarity as a leader, this trickles down to your staff. They spin their wheels and struggle to know where to put their focus.

You can be the smartest, most strategic, highly emotional intelligent leader, but if you can’t get the right things accomplished, and you can’t focus your team to get results, you will never be successful.

What are some habits that contribute to lack of focus that you need to detox?

Common examples:

  • Not prioritizing your to-do list
  • Not taking the time to plan your day
  • Too many distractions
  • Email open all day
  • Not blocking time in your calendar to focus
  • Not scheduling priorities in your calendar

What are two positive habits you can implement to offset the negative habits?

Successful Delegation

The ability to delegate is one of the most important habits of successful leadership. In fact, lack of delegation is often the primary reason leaders aren’t successful. There are many reasons leaders don’t delegate, but one common reason is they get satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment by staying in the technical work.

Leading at a strategic level is necessary for effective leadership. Yet for many people, the strategic elements of leadership like coaching and developing employees, creating strategic plans and solutions, and engaging and leading a team feel less tangible. Staying in technical work feels more rewarding because we get the immediate satisfaction of checking things off a list.

When you delegate, you multiply your productivity, AND you develop others on your team.

What are some habits that contribute to lack of delegation that you need to detox?

Common examples:

  • Wanting to control the outcome
  • Not trusting your staff to do it well
  • Not taking the time to teach someone on your team
  • Operating in activity mode, not accomplishment mode

What are two positive habits you can implement to offset the negative habits?

Team Engagement

Because most leaders feel overloaded and overwhelmed, they aren’t purposeful in their leadership. They don’t prioritize coaching and developing employees, which often leads to lack of team engagement.

What defines engagement? When employees invest a lot of energy in their work: physical, mental and emotional energy. An engaged employee is a person who is fully committed to and enthusiastic about his or her work.

Many leaders think engagement is about happy employees. It’s not about just having happy employees, it’s about having more productive employees. You want engaged employees because engaged employees work hard.

A high performer can deliver 400% more productivity than the average performer. (HBR: https://hbr.org/2014/11/what-high-performers-want-at-work)

If you want engaged employees, you need to be an engaging leader.

What are some habits that contribute to lack of engagement that you need to detox?

Common examples:

  • Not getting to know your employees as individuals
  • Not providing meaningful feedback
  • Not meeting with employees regularly
  • Neglecting to coach and develop your employees
  • Focusing only on results and not on people

What are two positive habits you can implement to offset the negative habits?

Small habits are the foundation of success. Most people underestimate the power of small steps that compound each day. If you detox the negative leadership habits that don’t serve you and focus on creating positive habits in the three areas this year, you will elevate your leadership and your team, and set yourself up for exceptional results.