By Karen Delk, MSc, PCC
As leaders, we often focus on the next project, task, or deadline to address our “to do” list.
We can assess, organize, and plan the scope and duration of work and garner resources. Executing these skills well gets us more responsibility. We seek opportunities to identify what needs to get done organizationally. The pursuit helps us think and plan our work, collaborate with skilled people, and provide opportunities for those looking to expand their skills. Our efforts focused on leading and developing others earn us the title of a developer of people. Our ability to analyze the financials, assess the capability of others, recognize the challenges ahead and design solutions test our problem-solving ability. We take this approach again and again because it has served us well in our quest to be productive, increase our responsibility and grow our scope.
Our quest to strive for more, become more efficient and effective, generate greater savings or increased growth for our organization is strong motivation to keep pursuing what has worked for us as individuals and as leaders. It makes sense to continue doing what works. Yet, how often do we take stock of our leadership skills and accomplishments?
It is surprising, and it is not as often as you may think. I coach many senior leaders who often felt the dearth of knowledge, skill, and perspective — not so much compared to others, but in their ability to meet their organization’s deliverables, demands, and expectations. The quality to question each situation, find what is common and unique allows leaders to deploy new thinking to each situation, in these moments of defining the goal or the problem and carving the path to achieve the goal or resolve the problem that allows us to seek novel approaches. In pursuit of achieving, we gather knowledge and resources to collaborate, adjust, and innovate. We move to the next deliverable, anxious to take on more responsibility, build up more credibility and equity, increase efficiency and growth, and reduce redundancy and waste. These are all tremendous goals that reinforce our leadership capabilities, it is what motivates some, and for others, while important, it is not the driving force.
Are You Building Trust?
For some, the driving force is an unnecessary amount of fear. Fear is unhealthy, and it impacts us and the people we lead. We may show anger, aggressiveness, micromanaging, or victim behavior.
It shows up in organizations we lead with team members being fearful, not speaking up, not sharing, holding back, and doing only the minimum.
Leaders need to be aware of and reduce the fear by creating psychological safety by building trust. Rebuilding trust takes time and effort and is done by:
- communicating openly
- observing behavior
- look for and honor people doing something right
- seek feedback on fear and seek to restore trust
- encourage accountability
- build a mentality of ownership and empowerment
For more about building trust, read “Thirteen Behaviors of a High Trust Leader.”
5 Steps to Help You Take Stock
If fear is not an issue, leaders may be moving quickly to take on the next project, which can rob us of a vital source of nurturing, renewal, and replenishment. It shows up when we are too busy to step back and schedule time for ourselves to think, reflect, and celebrate. It is important to embrace the time to think, reflect, and celebrate to learn from our experience, identify alternatives ways of working or solutioning to increase our knowledge.
Taking stock of your leadership skills and accomplishments can cement our knowledge of what it took to accomplish the goals.
Here is what taking stock looks like:
- Understand who you supported and where you received support (from executive leadership), tolerance of mistakes, and appreciating individual differences are part of the support.
- What freedom do you have to direct aspects of the work or to accomplish the goal, and what limiting beliefs did you overcome or help solution for others
- How did you share information with others, and where did you receive the information which is needed to make decisions?
- How did you obtain or provide resources which can hinder a sense of ownership and accountability for yourself and others?
- Where did you obtain clarity, and how clearly did you communicate the objective or vision, explaining the responsibility and consequence of action or inaction and describing the expected outcomes and who else needs to be involved.
Take time to reflect on the five steps and model the behavior. Expect others on your team to do so as well, and watch the transformative learning you and others will have in being more accountable.
To learn more about assessing and strengthening your leadership skills, schedule a consultation with Karen.