Did anyone have “the talk” with you about Leadership?
When you were promoted into your management role did your new boss sit you down and tell you that “success" looked different now that you are leading a team? Not only do you have to deliver on your own projects, but you now have the needs of others to consider and it is your job to provide the environment for them to thrive as well. Me? I cannot recall a single conversation in my career that supported me with this shift. I was in leadership roles from my 20’s onward, but I navigated that by modeling those leaders I admired, and trying to avoid being like those I didn’t. I finally attended leadership training in my early 40’s and worked with a leadership coach for a year at that point in my career. Everything crystalized for me during that time, and I got very clear about the kind of leader I wanted to be, and I worked hard to show up that way every single day.
I wish that I could have had a more intentional leadership career that felt supported and developed with intention, instead of a half-hazard journey that went well, but could have been so much better.
Here are three key elements of leadership that I wish someone had raised my awareness about when I transitioned into leadership;
Culture – The leader sets the tone on culture. Everything we do; our behaviour, our attitude, our language, the way we treat people and the way we manage our emotions sends a message about what is acceptable in our culture. One of the most challenging elements of leadership is that we are under the microscope ALL THE TIME. When you develop your cultural norms and behaviours, it is up to you to model those behaviours consistently. That can be hard work, but your people are observing you and whether you realize it or not, you are sending messages about this every single day.
Clarity – Our employees crave and require clarity so that they can perform to the best of their ability. It is the leader’s job to strive to create that clarity. Clarity on the vision, the long term and short term goals, their specific job role and what success looks like for them. Clarity on the culture and “how we work together” norms, along with a dose of clarity on their strengths and what they can contribute to the team.
Conversations – It is so apparent to me now that EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION that a leader has with their people has an impact – good or bad. Our words land deeply with people, and they hold onto those conversations and dissect them for meaning about what the impact is for them. I believe that leaders need to pay more attention to the way they are navigating conversations, because at the end of the day, if you want to inspire your team to bring their best, be engaged and deliver great results – they only way you can make that happen is through intention conversations that tap into their motivation and potential. A powerful vision and great plans create the clarity, but conversations with your people are the secret sauce to unlocking their potential so they can do great work with you and for you.
If no one had “the talk” with you about leadership expectations, then I hope these three pillars will be a good starting place for you to reflect on and focus your leadership efforts. And if you want to talk about your leadership journey and aspirations - you know where to find me! This is one of my favourite topics because I believe it is needed and the time is now. Being an intentional leader is an empowering way to be.