WHAT WILL YOUR LEADERSHIP LOOK LIKE IN 2020

“Don’t Fool Yourself; LEADERSHIP IS HARD!”

In my effort to cultivate and grow my leadership, I find it challenging to stay the course and achieve what I read, witness, and teach. In fact, I often find myself telling people one thing and doing the exact opposite. Doing that can hurt those you lead, coach, mentor, or teach. If you don’t improve, you will ultimately lose respect, trust, and, eventually, the ability to influence. 

As 2020 approaches, I decided to evaluate my leadership abilities and identify those things I do well and those areas where I need to improve. The last four years have been a personal leadership challenge for me. I’ve had a job change that put me in a role with no direct reports and limited my decision-making authority. I’ve had to learn to lead differently. The term; “influence without authority” has become an actual reality challenge for me.

During my self-evaluation, I identified my top 5 strengths in leading others and having a strong influence on the decision making process.

1. I am a very HIGH ENERGY AND PASSIONATE leader in the areas I believe in.

2. I am willing to embrace CHANGE, even if I don’t entirely agree with it

3. I am PERSISTENT in my approach to achieving my desires, goals, and objectives

4. I am CONFIDENT in my decision making but open to ideas and suggestions

5. I am a strong ENGAGER of people

It is always good to identify your strong points, but it can be challenging to identify areas for improvement. The way I approached this was to reflect on 2019 and the many conversations, suggestions, and feedback I received throughout the year. I am always asking for feedback (although many times I don’t want to hear it or I have an excuse) 

Based on my evaluation and reflection, I will focus on building and improving the following five leadership traits in 2020. 

1. Being Clear in My Communication – I will work to enhance my communication approach through tone and word choices. Working to pull my feelings and frustration back and undoubtedly transfer my thoughts, ideas, and expectations. I will explain the “why” more often and ensure people are well informed. People want to be “in the know.” People want to deliver expectations, but can’t be successful if we don’t clearly and successfully communicate. They also want to know what the rewards are for good work and the consequences for sub-standard work.

2. Build Stronger Relationships – Relationships are critical to leadership. Strong relationships build trust and respect and offer the opportunity to influence. I will work to be present with my customers, leaders, and the workforce. I will reach out for general conversations and make sure I follow-up with the right people. I will work to show how much I care about all facets of the business. It is said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” They are looking for you to care for them and build a working relationship. I will work harder to learn and remember names and recognize that life is going on outside of work.

3. Humble Myself – I am am very confident in my role but must be better at leading with humility. I don’t know everything and always make the right decisions, but I will work diligently to illustrate my knowledge through the quality of my choices. I will recognize all persons, regardless of position, and work to realize that no one is any more important than anyone else. I will demonstrate this through my actions and interactions. I will let each know how important they are by involving them and getting their brains in the game.

4. Be a Stronger Encourager – I will continuously look for and recognize the great work people are doing. I will express my gratitude and exemplify the positive difference they are making. I will encourage them for their actions, the work they perform, and the value they add.

5. Have Courage – I understand creativity and innovation drive progress and performance. I will make bold decisions, push back when needed, but fully support the final decision. I will have difficult conversations when necessary, and I will do the difficult right things.

With a new year and new decade roll into place, I feel like it is the optimal time to increase my influence and achieve more than I ever have. I don’t know where most of you fall within your leadership needs (unless I know you). Still, I believe the results from my self-evaluation will encourage many of you to look within yourself, identify areas of improvement, and make the necessary changes to become a stronger influencer and more effective leader.

3 LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES YOU MUST GET RIGHT

Like some of you, leadership has been a continual growth process for me. It seems that there are some who “get it” from the get-go. However, for me, it’s been a journey. I’ve struggled with resistance from individuals. As a safety professional, the most difficult thing to change in a program is the belief that “we’ve always done it this way,” or “we didn’t budget for that.” In the safety profession, influence is the key to success. The safety profession serves an essential purpose in the work field, but it does not produce a product or generate cash flow.

Consequently, we must be able to influence others to make the right decisions for the right reasons. Success in the safety field is determined through the reduction or elimination of injuries. Ultimately, the worker and their families benefit from our efforts. Over the past several years, three principles have emerged that have helped renew my energy and commitment to influencing those who make the decisions. These principles aren’t new, but I have become more intentional in my implementation. I am deliberate in focusing on each of these principles, and because of such, I have seen significant results.

“Principle-centered people are constantly educated by their experiences.”  – Steven Covey

I want to share these 3 principles with you. I believe that EACH leader should acquaint themselves with these truths to obtain powerful influence.

RIGHT PEOPLE
The first question to ask is “Am I influencing the right people?” Different people need to be influenced by various reasons and circumstances. For instance, does a production employee need to be influenced to purchase a new piece of equipment? No. The focus needs to be on finance and production leadership. However, the production employee does need to be influenced by the need to make appropriate behavior choices. If we are not influencing the right people for our current demand, then our time and effort become lost. The second question is “Do you have the right people on your team?” For leaders, the motto has been that people are your greatest asset, but that saying needs some fine-tuning. It’s not just people; it’s the right people. When you’re bringing someone aboard your leadership team, put forth ample time into the resume/interview process. Develop engaging interview questions and include other team members to ensure the person can become an effective team collaborator and has the right skillset to “fill in the holes.” A leader is only as good as his/her inner circle. These are the people that make the vision a reality. Sometimes organizations put excessive emphasis on the senior leader, when in fact it’s more than just one man.

Moreover, it’s not just whom we bring on, but also whom we hang onto. It’s hard to let an employee go or to tell a team leader that their season has come to an end. Ultimately, do what is best for the team and the overall organization.

Consider whom you are currently trying to influence, are they the right person for your needs? Do you have the right people on board and in the right positions? Focus on influencing the right people and ensure your inner circle consists of qualified, committed individuals and success will be achieved.

WELL-DEFINED MISSION
Second, it is vital to have a well-defined mission. A clear mission keeps us on track to complete critical tasks. You and your team must define a mission that supports your vision. Evaluate all the things you’re doing and make the difficult decision to cut out (even good things) that don’t fit within that defined mission. This pruning process will help you avoid “mission drift” and make your leadership more effective.

UNWAVERING FAITHFULNESS
So finally, when you have the right people and a well-defined mission, go after it with all your heart. Those who are passionate about what they want will be successful. Passion drives us through difficult times. In our ready-made culture, we want immediate results. The reality is that any constant endeavor, a marriage, business, or ministry takes time to build. I remind people that they’re embarking on an adventure that requires an investment of faithfulness. Be committed to putting the time and effort in; day by day, person-by-person, project by project.

Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainr, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.