If you've been told you're "leadership material," it may be due to these seven leadership practices. However, more often than not, people in positions of authority don't value the people-side of the business.
Frankly, they often defer "leadership development" to the lower ranks because they're too busy to care about raising their own capacity to transform the workplace and serve the needs of their employees.
Here are seven examples that may not even register on their radar screen.
1. They're too busy to give feedback.
This is a core principle of effective communication in great leadership, whether it's to address performance issues, clarify direction, or set expectations on critical tasks or strategy. If a leader is too busy to practice these techniques regularly, their leadership influence is off-base:
- Keep feedback simple and avoid information overload.
- Be specific and use examples.
- Describe the behavior you would prefer; focus on the issue, not the person.
- Check for receptivity and understanding so both parties are on the same page.
- Remain open for discussions.
2. They're too busy to want to make people better at what they do.
A sign of leadership greatness is creating a learning organization that relies upon the knowledge of individual contributors, rather than the classical hierarchical organization, which relies on the knowledge of the top of the hierarchy.
Leaders who are looking ahead to develop the skills, competencies, and leadership of others have a distinct advantage. As they create the framework for people to develop and progress in mastery, the power of intrinsic motivation is unleashed.
3. They're too busy to provide employees with a sense of purpose.
In Give and Take, Wharton professor Adam Grant says when a person finds purpose and meaning in their work, it will not only improve that person's happiness, it will boost productivity. One way to do just that, according to Grant's research, is to give your employees the chance to connect with and meet the people they are serving--their customers.
When employees feel they are making a difference in the world through the work they do--whether they're designing apps or laying down asphalt--it increases their motivation to perform.
4. They're too busy to truly connect with your employees.
Great leaders show their humanity and spend considerable time building relationships. They share their leadership and involve others in decision-making.
Such leaders create an environment in which risks are taken, allowing those around them to feel safe to exercise their creativity, communicate their ideas openly, and provide input to major decisions. That's because there's trust there, not fear. It communicates to employees a sense of "Hey, we're all in this together."
5. They're too busy to recognize their employees.
Don't underestimate the power that comes from recognizing high performers who are intrinsically motivated. In fact, Gallup has surveyed more than four million employees worldwide on this topic. They found that people who receive regular recognition and praise:
- increase their individual productivity.
- increase engagement among their colleagues.
- are more likely to stay with their organization.
- receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers.
- have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job.
6. They're too busy to practice patience.
A leader who practices patience and is slow to anger receives far less attention and acclaim than a charismatic leader with a commanding presence but a short fuse. Yet the former has the clear edge.
In one 2012 study, researchers found that patient people made more progress toward their goals and were more satisfied when they achieved them (particularly if those goals were difficult) compared with less patient people.
Other research also found that patient people tend to experience less depression and negative emotions and can cope better with stressful situations. Additionally, they feel more gratitude, more connection to others, and experience a greater sense of abundance.
7. They're too busy to care about listening to other people.
Many leaders don't want to listen to ideas, opinions, and constructive feedback from others about their own leadership. For such leaders, cutting themselves off means that they operate in an ego-system, not an ecosystem.
A leader who listens well, on the other hand, is open and accountable; they filter out criticism or drama and find the facts in order to respond appropriately to serve the needs of others. They probe and ask questions until they get clarification; they listen to understand--with a focus on the future, not on a rehash of the past.