Effective Leadership Can Dress in Many Outfits.

A great manager must eventually choose a philosophy. Core elements for the boss holding a stick approach will vary from the fellow dangling a carrot. For control freaks, the difference between filter and bottleneck can be hard to distinguish. Type A’s can be recognized by their self-assuredness; a blessing albeit with drawbacks.

Irrespective of style, the nature of man is that habits define us. We are what we do, and we tend to respond to triggers in entirely foreseeable responses.  Having good habits is a must.

Understanding you are a slave to your habits I suppose could be portrayed as the first step in controlling your habits, rather than the reverse which of course is your habits controlling you.

I got hooked on habits (think about THAT for a moment!) after I read The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. Quick read-maybe an hour. A spoonful too much sugar for some, but really good stuff. Life lessons wrapped in fiction.

No matter what your management style is, whether you’ve given it thought or it’s just you being real, you do exhibit a philosophy.  And so here I sit, your ink-stained wretch, with a one pager on making you an effective leader.

Write a list of the ten habits a great manager might exhibit. Your list, not anyone else’s.

Then get after it the way you would eat an elephant. One bite at a time. Could you become that list; become that manager, with those 10 habits?

Let’s say the first is that you start catching individuals in moments of excellence. When you see a colleague do something in role-model fashion, handwrite a short note. Do it once a week. Make that a habit. Put it on your calendar as a recurring event and just do it when it pops up. You will find your eyes on the lookout for those small acts of excellence. Once a week does not overdo it. Your powder says dry but there is enough frequency to move the needle.

If you tell people they have what it takes to succeed, they’ll prove you right.

Just work on that one habit. Do it for a month. Then for month two, add another habit to develop.

Now on the second month, complete each week with the department having a basic sense of how the week went financially. One or two numbers of the metric that pertains to your work group. Find a clever way to deliver the result. If the team gets loads of email from you already, it is hard to distinguish urgent from important from noise.

Everyone should have a basic exposure to how success for their team is measured. If not, then it is not really fair to expect them to respond as full business partners. If you don’t treat them as such, why should they feel that way. So make sure the team knows how the team is doing. There is a natural desire to be a good teammate, so feed that desire. Don’t ignore it. Don’t let negative vibes or lovers of routine rule the field.

After two months, you have your small atta-boys going out once a week and your team is being shown the score, you might start to see tumblers falling into place. And that is just with your first two habits in place.

Consider how awesome you will start to feel about getting into work. And by the way, I know I earlier wrote it should be YOUR list, not mine. I then launched into a couple as if my list matters. But it does not. Your list matters, as long as you write a credible list.

Think your situation is just a skosh more complex than I am perceiving? You think me simple?

If ice can burn, then love and hate can mate. You can change your culture. Your workplace might be bizarre, but so are most.

In any event, a pattern of good habits will escalate your performance in any environment.

You may find your impressions of yourself change. Your habits will have more effect on you beyond what is happening for the team.  What they do for you and for your sense of purpose and self-worth; your pride and the satisfaction of getting things done.

You may find your impressions of others change as well.

What can your first impression of someone tell you? No more than a chord can tell you about Beethoven; no more than a brushstroke by Renoir. By our very nature, we are complex, capricious, and sometimes delightfully contradictory. Those who take pride in discernment through first impressions are closed minded fools.

And yet they have no idea!

I’ve had some really good friends tell me how good they are at reading people when first meeting, and EVERY TIME I quietly think them foolish. You need to experience folks in several settings at different hours of the day. Then your impressions have a relationship with fair-mindedness.

Maybe that can be a habit you work on; keeping an open mind. Especially when you are with someone you are SURE has less firepower than you.

Another habit suggestion before I close.

Read more. I don’t mean your phone.

The reader lives a thousand lives; a man who never reads leads only one. Reading is a great way to learn that most people do not see things as you do.


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