Anybody who’s managed people can tell you about good days and bad days. On the good days, you feel like a winning coach at the Super Bowl. On the bad days, you feel like you’re skiing just a few yards ahead of an avalanche. Most days fall somewhere in between.
To increase your odds of having more good days than bad, “up” your leadership attitude and aptitudes with these six practices:
1. Show UP as a leader
It’s no secret that for many decades, the citizenry has consistently given Congress the lowest ratings of the three branches of government. Reasons for the low ratings?
- Lack of accomplishment
- Failure to take responsibility for that lack of accomplishment
- Ambiguous, inconsistent positions on key issues
- Individual conduct unbecoming the position
Ditto for leaders in the workplace.
2. Speak UP as a leader
Look for opportunities. Take risks. Rather than focusing on what won’t work, consider where the goals and interests of all parties overlap. That’s where the synergies exist for innovation, change, improvements. That’s where all parties can benefit from talk to explore how they can work together to achieve what none of them could achieve alone.
3. Stand UP as a leader
Support your team members when they need help, answers, or resources to get their job done. Be responsive. Show confidence and pride in them and their work. Protect them, when necessary, against unfair practices of suppliers or an overly aggressive customer.
4. Shut UP as a leader
Whining and complaining diminishes your stature as a leader, detracts from the mission, and destroys the morale of your team in general. Mouthing off about leaders above you in the hierarchy, about other departments, or about your colleagues casts you in an unprofessional light. Keep negative opinions to yourself, and be positive if you intend to motivate your team. Stay focused.
5. Lighten UP as a leader
The heavier your workload, the more you need to give your team a chance to de-stress with a little humor. Whether it’s allowing a quirky DJ playing in the background, bringing in pizza for lunch for a little downtime together, creating a goofy contest, or competitive sports, a light attitude can increase productivity and job satisfaction.
6. Grow UP as a leader
Personal conflict demands the utmost strength from leaders: putting aside personal feelings to accomplish common goals. Daniel Goleman’s studies and books suggest that emotional intelligence is a far greater predictor of success than IQ.
During more than three decades of coaching professionals on leadership communication, I routinely hear clients state these issues as their goals for our work together:
- “Giving executive presentations.”
- “Shaping our marketing message.”
- “Building a cohesive sales presentation that the entire group can use.”
- “Preparing for our IPO.”
- “Increasing executive presence.”
But once into the coaching session, the client often identifies their most perplexing problem this way:
- “My boss (vendor, client, supplier) doesn’t like me and makes life miserable.”
- “I dislike my boss and despise working for him/her.”
Leading in the face of conflict takes emotional stability, self-awareness, willingness to listen, an open mind, humility, forgiveness, patience, confidence, courage, and perseverance. Professionals who do not have these qualities struggle.
Conflict produces either callousness or growth. No matter the conflict, your challenge as a leader is to keep growing. Great leaders demonstrate emotional maturity.
Which way is UP for you in your personal development plan?