Effective leadership is an influence process where leaders implement everyday, commonsense approaches that help people and organizations thrive. Yet somehow, many of these fundamental principles are still missing from most workplaces.
In our new book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, Ken Blanchard and I share fifty-two Simple Truths about leadership that will help leaders everywhere make commonsense leadership common practice.
The book covers a wide-ranging list of leadership skills certain to bring out the best in people. One of the things that make our approach different is the down-to-earth practicality of what we recommend. Instead of outcome or trait statements, the authors share leadership behaviors that get results.
How about you? What day-to-day leadership behaviors have made a big difference in your effectiveness as a leader?
Below are five examples of commonsense practices from our book. Are any of these on your list of simple leadership truths? Which of these have been powerful in your life as a leader? Which do you wish you would have learned earlier? What else would you include?
1. See Feedback as a Gift
Giving feedback to the boss doesn’t come naturally to most people, so getting honest feedback from your team members may be difficult. They may fear being the messenger bearing bad news, so they hesitate to be candid.
If you are lucky enough to receive feedback from one of your team members, remember—they’re giving you a gift. Limit yourself to three responses. Make sure the first thing you say is “Thank you!” Then follow up with “This is so helpful,” and “Is there anything else you think I should know?”
2. Help People Win
It’s hard for people to feel good about themselves if they are constantly falling short of their goals. That’s why it’s so important for you as a leader to do everything you can to help people win—accomplish their goals—by ensuring the following:
- Make sure your people’s goals are clear, observable, and measurable.
- As their leader, work together with your people to track progress.
- When performance is going well or falling short of expectations, give them appropriate praising, redirecting, or coaching—or reexamine whether your leadership style matches the person’s development level on a specific goal.
3. Admit Your Mistakes
If you make a mistake, own it. Admit what you did, apologize if necessary, and then put a plan in place to not repeat the mistake. Here are some best practices you can follow:
- Be prompt. Address the mistake as soon as possible. Delay can make it appear you’re trying to avoid or cover up the issue.
- Accept responsibility. Own your behavior and any damage it caused.
- Highlight the learning. Let your team know what you’ve learned and what you’ll do differently next time.
- Be brief. Don’t over-apologize or beat yourself up. Mistakes happen.
4. Extend Trust
Many leaders are afraid to give up too much control for fear that something will come back to bite them. They think it isn’t worth the risk to give up control. Are you willing to give up control and trust others? If you struggle to relinquish control and trust others, start with baby steps:
- Identify low-risk situations where you feel comfortable extending trust.
- Assess a person’s trustworthiness by gauging their competence to handle the task, integrity to do the right thing, and commitment to follow through.
- As you become more comfortable giving up control and learn that others can be trusted, extend more trust as situations allow.
5. Rebuild Trust When Broken
Leaders inevitably do something to erode trust—and when that happens, it’s good to have a process to follow to rebuild it. Trust can usually be restored if both parties are willing to work at it. If you have eroded trust in a relationship, follow this process to begin restoring it:
- Acknowledge. The first step in restoring trust is to acknowledge there is a problem. Identify the cause of low trust and what behaviors you need to change.
- Apologize. Take ownership of your role in eroding trust and express remorse for the harm it has caused.
- Act. Commit to not repeating the behavior and act in a more trustworthy way in the future.
Interested in learning more? Join Ken and I for a special webinar on January 26 where we will be highlighting key concepts from our book. The event is free, courtesy of The Ken Blanchard Companies. Use this link to register.