Leaders who practice conscious, courteous, courageous, culturally sensitive language arts rise to the top. It is human nature to follow those who lead by example, inspire us, and who appear confident and poised.
Such traits are no accident. The best leaders manage themselves to convey a dynamic energy, stage presence, and powerful communications. You only have a few seconds to make a first impression. What impression do you choose to make?
Think of it like this: you walk in confidently, looking pulled together, and then open your mouth to speak. Does what comes out match the visual cues received from looking at you? That is, do you sound as good as you look?
Your voice speaks volumes about your confidence level, your education, socioeconomic stature, and your roots. And your voice can be managed to help you be a more effective leader.
In a traditional performance evaluation, someone is assigned to compile and review with each executive a summary of her/his strengths, contributions, growth, and opportunities for improvement. The traditional process has many weaknesses which are summarized in this article recently published by Flevy.com, such as:
Compiling a quality performance assessment is difficult; consequently it often gets put off to be done at the last minute but it also takes time to do a good job and time runs out.
Assessment content tends to be arbitrary based on ability, skills, and perspective of the reviewer and may not represent the best thinking or interests of the team.
Reviewers tend to avoid raising and dealing with tough matters that should be addressed aggressively because it is uncomfortable and they are not trained or motivated to do otherwise.
I tell everyone who works with, or for, me that they are never to do something because I told them to do it. I do not want or expect anyone to do what I ask just because I told them to do it. Instead, I insist they do what they do because:
They understand what they are doing.
They know why it makes sense to do it.
They believe it is wise and right to do.
They want to do it.
The objective is to make them (as opposed to me!) accountable for what they do and to help them grow through the experience. Soon I will not have to ask them anymore because what I want done will be internalized and we can move on to the next stage of growth.
If I ever ask them to do something that they do not understand, agree with, or want to do then I beg them to tell me about it so that we can talk it through.
An approach that demands people to do something, but that does not take time to be sure those being told understand and agree with doing it, may seem more like what a CEO should do. It is not and this explains why:
When things do not go quite right it is too easy for the person to let themselves “off the hook” as they say, either out loud or to themselves, that: “I only did it because the boss told me to.”
It is a human tendency to do what you are told to do by persons in positions of authority. However, when you follow an order, you do not necessarily have to:
Understand what is going on.
Consider the goal and come up with alternative actions that move towards achieving it better, more efficiently, or faster.
Decide on an action to take.
That is, following an order removes the obligation to know, think, or decide. You just do what you are told and assume, hope, or trust that someone smarter, or someone in a position of higher authority, has made a good decision.
The limit of this is that people do what you tell them to do and little or nothing else! A growing organization requires people to think for themselves, to generalize, and to apply broadly lessons learned.
The leader in a growing organization can be, and often is, the constraint to growth. Fortunately, this is an easy problem to fix: rather than telling subordinates what to do, the leader should spend the bulk of their time helping the next generation of leaders develop to the point where they operate independently; thereby freeing up the leader for strategic initiatives and other actions that only they can perform.
CEOs who thrive on the heady sense of power that comes from knowing that their staff will do their bidding are consistently out-performed by those who do just the opposite and expect employees to think and act for themselves in pursuit of company performance and personal development.
A qualified sales prospect may turn out to be in the next seat at a conference session or happen by the booth in the vendor display area … but the odds are so long that if the only plan is to meet people randomly then it is probably not worth going.
The value of attending is multiplied many times when an industry conference serves as a platform to work from before, during and after by a team committed to making the most of the experience.
Specifically, contact targeted executives regarding the conference. Every interaction is a chance to make a strong personal connection around a topic of mutual interest (the conference); use it to gather intelligence and to impact thinking related to cultivating interest in organization offerings. Continue reading Don’t go to the conference stupid!→
While putting full attention on accomplishing one thing increases the odds that the thing will be done well, it is all too easy for the career minded professional to end up doing nothing other than their work!
They would be wise to realize that top performers at all levels make time for other things such as family, recreation, exercise, spiritual development, and even volunteer work.