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Five Tips on Being a Better Leader

by Francie Dalton on April 29, 2011

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Want your organization, your department, your group, to be the very best it can be?

Start by identifying the criteria that constitute “best,” and then consider whether your leadership provides observable evidence of those criteria.

1. Leaders must be agile.

Speed of responsiveness is a competitive distinction. It requires moment-by-moment deductive reasoning, real-time monitoring of events and trends, and the ability to anticipate what’s coming next before others even recognize the indicators.

Organizational agility, however, is not synonymous with agile leadership.

Are you subordinating effectiveness to the existing structure? Insisting on certainty before taking any risk? Impeding change because you’re comfortable with the current state?

Resolve today to make fear your friend. Fear spawns innovation, reveals options, imposes efficacies, and functions to help you achieve desired state.

2. Embrace unity.

Leaders must make employees essential contributors to shared goals.

Unity isn’t cognitive. Even if borne of shared belief, unity is an emotional state, and is palpable. It is built not through dogma or a series of completed transactions, but through a quality of leadership that resonates with those being led.

Are you striving for mere compliance from your employees?

Instead, resolve to lead in a way elicits their voluntary, unified commitment.

3. Provide accountability.

Establishing and meeting targeted business outcomes nourishes self-esteem, enhances careers, and builds leadership capabilities.

Are you dwarfing fledgling leaders by absolving them of accountability? Are you depriving them of a sense of achievement by intervening on their developmental flailing?

Resolve to develop confident, competent leaders by not providing answers or solutions. Instead, format constructive, critical feedback into Socratic questions so that they have to deduce the lesson.

4. Build community.

Does your organization have an online, annotated human capital directory that is searchable by name, function, capabilities (whether part of current function or not), hobbies, affiliations, etc.?

Have you tasked your existing staff with developing killer on-boarding programs?

Do you and your managers conduct stay interviews?

Assuming you have an intranet, are you regularly featuring employee accomplishments? Is there an employee “bulletin board”?

If not, you have an employee base; not a community.

5. Increase levity.

Humor is the weapon of the powerful relationships. Are you alert to and actively seeking “the lighter side”?

Nothing shows more confidence under dire circumstances than a moment of wit or an amusing perspective; so long as it’s not at anyone’s expense. Recognize the rallying effect of humor, and use it as the powerful leadership tool it is.

Resolve to laugh at yourself at least once daily; or better yet, share a laugh about yourself with a different staff member every day.

This isn’t the end of my list. Look for Part II of this post to come your way soon, with five more tips on being a better leader.

More from Women Grow Business:

Image: Tim (Timothy) Pearce via Flickr, Creative Commons

Francie Dalton, CMC, is founder and president of Dalton Alliances, Inc.and author of the recently published book Versatility. Her Washington, DC based consultancy helps the C-Suite solve business nightmares. Francie equips clients to deal with what they didn’t see coming (and shows them there’s always another way to win!). She welcomes a chance to meet you via Twitter or on LinkedIn.

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