Drawing on a wide range of resources, this article pulls together some of the best "quick tips" on leadership and communication for managers.
Think of leadership as a privilege, not a right (see Servant Leadership) Think of your #1 job as turning people into leaders (see Transformational Leadership) Leading is not about you; it’s about others and the organisation (see Level 5 Leadership) Have a balanced concern for people and results (see Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid) Adjust your focus/style to their skill/readiness level (see Situational Leadership) Minimise weaknesses. Focus on strengths (see Strengths-Based Leadership) Be Clear, Concise, Concrete, Correct, Coherent, Complete, Courteous (see the 7 C's of Communication) Understand people’s basic communication preferences (see DISC Model) Be a coach. Don’t tell; help them solve their own problems (see GROW Model) Get employees in the habit of thinking through solutions or options, instead of saying “there’s a problem—what should I do?” (See 7 Levels of Initiative) Assume noble intent (See Hanlon’s Razor) Understand people’s intrinsic motivations (see Motivators Model) Be the leader you always wanted to work for Imagine people are unpaid volunteers. How would you treat them differently? (Peter Drucker) How much you care usually matters far more to people than how much you can do What you say is often less important than how you say it Put your ego aside Nobody is faultless or infallible; don’t pretend to be Admit your mistakes fast If you don’t know, don’t bluff Remember, a leader’s mood is contagious Be present and mindful (see Mindfulness) Don’t try to be interesting; be interested (Dale Carnegie) Don’t “talk” about having integrity; demonstrate it Don’t blame Don’t micromanage Never yell Get to know your team members as people Understand that non-financial rewards can have a more lasting impact on engagement than financial rewards, e.g., a sincere “I appreciate you” can have more impact than a $500 bonus Imagine everyone is wearing a large sign saying “MAKE ME FEEL IMPORTANT” (Mary Kay Ash) Keep a record of small personal details (e.g., when someone mentions their grandmother has a birthday in 6 months) Avoid management speak or excessive jargon Don’t use “big words” to impress Don’t raise your voice or lose your cool, even if others do Don’t assume people are mostly rational creatures Don’t change your mind without explanation Encourage development by sharing learning resources (e.g., articles, videos, online courses) Don’t be afraid to surround yourself with people smarter than you Place more emphasis on the results than following a particular path Communicate an “open door policy” Post regular updates on your intranet site Create a “team highlights” newsletter recognising milestones/contributions Redesign your office space to make it more warm/inviting Give an extra hour for lunch Have a “suggestions box” (or portal) Facilitate group interactions Schedule an outdoor meeting Schedule an offsite retreat Attend a conference as a team Allow for fun, playtime, laughter, socialising, etc Self-deprecating humour builds bridges Avoid sarcastic comments and put downs You don’t need to decide everything immediately (e.g., “My initial thoughts are… but I will think about what you said and provide a more concrete answer tomorrow”) Your candor level should match your employees’ trust level (candor without trust can feel brutal) Seek first to understand (Stephen Covey) Be an active, attentive listener (see Active Listening) Don’t judge Don’t interrupt Criticise ideas, not people Give constructive feedback (considerate, task specific, shifting focus away from the individual) Balance positive and negative feedback Criticise in private, praise in public “Please” and “thank you” go a long way Feedback should be ongoing; not every 6 months or 12 months As a general rule, don’t allow more than 7 days to give recognition or praise Have one-on-ones; not just group meetings Ask yourself: could this meeting be an email? Give meetings constraints/time limits to focus discussion Don’t have meetings for meetings sake Show that you’re willing to “jump in” and get your hands dirty Look for common ground Check for understanding. Don’t just explain the task and move on Connect daily work to strategic goals Explain why the task is important or meaningful Explain how the work connects to a larger goal Explain why the company mission or purpose matters Even if you won’t always agree, ensure people know their opinions will be heard Create a safe environment for dissenting opinions Ask for feedback to improve Be transparent Never take credit for others’ work Don’t kill the messenger of bad news Don’t sacrifice teamwork for competition Assume that every email you write will be read in public one day Email should be avoided for difficult/sensitive conversations Remember, the buck stops with you Don't speak to fill the silence Don’t punish the whole group with a new policy every time someone does something wrong Don’t gossip about others Don’t disclose confidential information about others Give people the right tools and get out of their way Don’t create an artificial sense of urgency “Because I’m the boss” is a poor rationale “Because I say so” is a poor rationale “Because I pay you” is a poor rationale Be a champion; challenge the status quo on your people’s behalf Ensure goals, roles, responsibilities are crystal clear Set stretch goals Give examples of the results you want Don’t expect people to read your mind
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