Every successful executive has developed their own leadership style over time. Leaders know that whether it is done by example, by sweeping fiat, or by repeatedly referring back to a voluminous new employee handbook, the important thing is that they consistently carve out the time and intention to actually lead. But better yet, by focusing on imbuing teams with a few of the most critical success skills, leaders can let their own hands off of the wheel from time to time, and still trust that the ship will head in the correct direction. If you’re looking to build an unbeatable team, or yet workforce, these are the skills a leader should prioritize developing in their employees.
1. Growth mindset
The premise that intelligence and ability can be improved upon with deliberate development makes for a strong foundation in any worker’s way of thinking. It’s one that can, by definition, be built upon – as opposed to the static intelligence and ability ascribed to Fixed Mindset believers. Any leader worth their salt is going to want a team full of people who look at their work through a lens of ‘what else can I do?’ to consistently think bigger. So make it a priority to call Growth Mindset by its name, and to remind employees that its personal rewards are tied to their mastery of it.
2. Embracing failure
We’ve all listened to enough CEO podcasts and profiles to hear a common refrain from many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs: That they failed in a previous venture or idea, and that their current success was only made possible because of the lessons they learned in once flaming out.
Would it be less costly to employ a team that never makes mistakes? No doubt. But some of the most innovative ideas and impactful lessons are born solely of failure. Building a company culture that allows the occasional foul ball to fly without fear of termination is exactly what empowers your workers to also hit home runs.
Permission to fail is a standing invitation to fail again and again if employees aren’t sufficiently motivated to dust themselves off and try again afterward. Worker resilience is the ability to recover quickly from business missteps and mistakes. Whether or not the landing is pretty is beside the point. The far more critical thing is that your team gets right back up and attacks a problem from a different angle if the first attempt misses the mark. Moving forward with unwavering direction, purpose, and passion will allow your employees to bypass any roadblock that arises.
4. Global perspective
Whether you’re a two-person flower shop in the American Midwest, a Fortune 500 company with offices across six continents, or increasingly more likely – a scattershot collection of a dozen or so remote workers bound together by Slack, Google Docs, and a company mission that prioritizes work-life balance, it’s almost impossible to imagine a business not impacted today by gears and levers all over the world. Perhaps your prototypes are manufactured in South Asia, or your graphic design team is staffed across multiple European time zones – the point is that the global workplace has changed. You’d be wise to thus encode into your company DNA caring and consideration for how your company affects and impacts the world – the whole world – around you.
The old adage about knowing your audience is tossed around quite a bit, frustratingly by those who fail to apply it to themselves once everyone else has left the room. Whether it’s Janet from accounting eating tuna fish at her cubicle, or a middle manager who interrupts every meeting to be briefed on what he missed by showing up 15 minutes late (again), nothing kills a sense of camaraderie and shared mission quicker than having to crawl down into the trenches each day with someone lacking in self-awareness. A professionally fulfilled workforce must first understand their innate desires and motivating factors, or any efforts on your part to satisfy their needs will be for naught. This will equip them with the right knowledge to leverage and augment resources for success.
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Instilling these skills starts with you
So how does a leader successfully gild their workforce with these critical attributes? There isn’t any magic pill they can swallow and wake up with all of these skills perfected. It is through continuous learning cycles that present employees with opportunities to flex these muscles and build them further where the real magic happens. Carving out opportunities is half of it, and the other half of it is doing it yourself.
Leaders who are all talk, of the “do as I say, not as I do” school of reductive thinking will receive little stakeholder buy-in from those whom they desperately need it from. Instead of preaching the gospel of these five success skills down to your team, allow them the learning opportunity to see you demonstrating them yourself while standing shoulder to shoulder with the team. You can’t hack personal growth on behalf of your employees by upgrading to the latest firmware update. To truly receive the lessons, your team must experience them.
Part of that process will likely mean learning a bit about your limitations as a leader along the way. There may be lessons that you are either unfit or unequipped to teach. But by practicing leadership with a mindset of ‘I always have room to grow,’ checking your ego (See self-awareness above), and building your team to support and coach others through the same lessons, you allow your company the opportunity to learn from each other and strengthen skills as team, paving the path forward together.
It is for this reason that the world’s very best leaders hire diverse teams. Diversity of culture, of background, of generation – all are necessary components of what I call a HyperQ workforce. There are five generations working alongside one another in today’s modern businesses, each equipped with generational strengths earned through their collective experiences. Experiences that can be drawn upon to help teach and polish fellow coworkers over time. The very best leaders are thus those who know to teach what they know through example, but also when it’s time to sit back and let the actions of other brilliant, capable people do the talking for them.