One of the things that I love about the practice of leadership is that there is no one size fits all model. What works for one individual in one setting doesn't necessarily work for another.
Just because something worked last week doesn't mean it's going to work next week. Our concept of leadership continually evolves as we as a species evolve. Just think about some of the Industrial Age practices that emerged from the early studies of leadership in the days of Fordism and Taylorism. The principles applied then are unrecognizable to the current philosophies around meaning, mindfulness, and authenticity. You never stop evolving as a leader. You constantly need to tweak, change and sometimes abandon your methods.
If you've recently hit a wall in your own leadership approach, let me suggest nine alternative ways to be a better leader. Feel free to try these out, to play with them and ultimately to take what's useful and leave the rest.
1. Share their purpose not their goals.
Find out from your people why it is that they do what they do every day. Building a strong understanding of your collective purpose helps your team gain clarity on the motivations for why they act, behave and interact with each other on a daily basis.
2. Teach them how to make good decisions and leave them to it.
Instituting a shared decision-making process and allowing your team to work through that process without your interference builds a culture of accountability and ownership that will develop them and take more off your plate.
3. Be a coach not a boss.
Providing advice, guidance, and support to your direct reports on the decisions they make and letting them know you have their back allows them to take more controlled risks which prevents your team from getting stagnant.
4. Get evaluated by your peers.
Asking for feedback from those leaders who operate at the same level of the organization as you will give you an insight not otherwise provided by your boss or your team. It can help you see the blind spots in your own leadership skill set.
5. Have your team tell stories.
In the world of big data, we're losing the value of anecdote and narrative. Offering the floor to tell stories of success and failure provides inspiration and guidance in a way that a metric never will.
6. Ask your team what they feel, not what they think.
Too often we try to take emotion out of leadership for fear that it clouds our judgment. As a result, we (and those who work for us) are prone to bottle up valuable emotions until one day they come out in often unhealthy ways. You don't lead in a science lab. Emotions can help steer decisions in a more valuable way if they're treated appropriately.
7. Care, truly care.
Care about your team, your customers and your community. Chances are you spend more time at work than you do with your own family. The actions you take on a daily basis can have a profound impact on a wide range of individuals and groups. So build empathy for them.
8. Take your team outside.
Fresh air, sunshine, and nature stimulate a part of your brain that is kept on mute when you're working in a stale office environment. Encourage your team to take meetings outside and see if you can find a creative solution to your current challenges.
9. When someone brings a problem, start by asking the question "what do you suggest?"
Have your team take control of their own challenges by stopping your rush to judgment. Allow them the freedom of the direction they're going in and be there to support them as they take a chance.