Many professionals want to achieve more success, but theyâ€™re afraid they donâ€™t have the time to do more or they just donâ€™t know what to do next or how to do it. And theyâ€™re afraid more success will come at the expense of their personal happiness.
Last month I outlined two steps to help you achieve more professional success. Today, I will outline the third step, Learn to Lead, to help you achieve more success and advance your career, without giving up your personal happiness.
Step Three: Learn to Lead. Whether you lead a small staff of two or three people, a practice group, an industry group or a large firm, learning to lead well is critical to your success. Effective leadership requires that you embody shared, perhaps inspirational, values. It requires that you utilize powerful leadership styles and that you delegate to bring out the best in yourself and others.
A) What are your values and why do they matter?
Do you know what your organizationâ€™s values are? Have you identified your own core values, the ones that drive your behaviors and decisions? They donâ€™t have to be identical to your organizationâ€™s core values, but they need to be similar or complementary. Hereâ€™s a deceptively simple exercise to identify your core values.
My core values are: Family, Respect, Diversity, Integrity and Adventure. Itâ€™s easy to see how respect, diversity and integrity relate to my practice, but you might wonder how family and adventure relate to my professional life. Family always comes first, both my family and my clientsâ€™ families.
I want my clients to achieve success and happiness in the context of their personal, family lives and I want the same for myself. Iâ€™m not the right consultant or coach for people who put their careers before their families. As to my love of adventure, it has sometimes required courage, as in jumping from and airplane and taking racecar driving lessons, and courage makes me a better consultant and coach. Also, adventure travel, including trips to Rwanda and Guatemala, inspires me, adds to my experience and, somewhat to my surprise, has strengthened my connections with many of my clients and colleagues.
Knowing your core values will help you make decisions faster and more easily. It will help you understand what matters to you and address what angers you. A client of mine was angry at one of his employees. I agreed with him that his employeeâ€™s behavior was inappropriate, but thought his anger was far out of proportion to his employeeâ€™s transgression. Working together we learned that two of my clientâ€™s core values are loyalty and confidentiality. He was angry, because he thought his employee had been disloyal. He was doubly angry, because he thought he couldnâ€™t confront his employee without revealing how he learned of his employeeâ€™s disloyalty. Two of his core values were in conflict with each other.
We found a way to resolve the situation, he spoke with his employee and the two of them settled their disagreement and repaired their relationship. Understanding his core values and the source of his anger significantly helped my client restore his own equanimity and his relationship with his employee.
B) What leadership styles are most effective?
What are your most natural leadership styles? Daniel Goleman and his co-authors Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee identified six styles of leadership: Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting and Commanding. Pacesetting and Commanding are sometimes effective, occasionally needed, but they are the two most often misused. Affiliative and Democratic are both effective, but the two most powerful and positive leadership styles they identified are Visionary and Coaching.
Visionary leaders inspire people by talking about vision and, more importantly, by walking their talk. You donâ€™t have to create the vision to be a visionary leader, but itâ€™s critical that you embody the vision of your organization. If you work for Apple, you must embody a passion for innovation. Your behavior must demonstrate that you value innovation and that, as a part of the Apple team, you strive to expand and support the use and impact of innovation in the world. In word and deed, you must remind your team of your organizationâ€™s vision.
Coaching leaders help their employees achieve their personal career goals while simultaneously achieving the goals of the organization. When I moved to Los Angeles to become Managing Consultant of the LA office of a global HR firm, I asked all of my new colleagues to create a â€œpictureâ€ of their perfect job. "What kinds of clients do you want to work with?" "What kinds of projects do you want to work on?" "What skills do you want to use?" "What do you want to learn?" "What hours do you want to work?"
I advised them to dream big and include anything that would make their job ideal, then meet with me one-on-one. In our individual meetings, we discussed their ideal jobs in detail. "Can I create your perfect job for you? No. But, Iâ€™ll do everything in my power to help you create your perfect job, while meeting the needs of our clients, our office and our company." I then used the information Iâ€™d gathered to match consultants and projects, to schedule staff and, when possible, to provide training.
When I began that role, the office was performing at 20% below projections. After my first full year in the role, our office was one of the companyâ€™s top performing offices, as measured by employee satisfaction, client satisfaction and profit margins. I attribute my teamâ€™s remarkable performance improvement to those conversations and using the information I gathered to lead my team. Thatâ€™s a coaching style of leadership.
C) Are you a transactional or transformational leader? Hopefully, both.
Transactional leaders focus on results and rely on structure and rewards to achieve them. They set clear goals and objectives and use rewards and punishments to achieve them. They tend to be linear and theyâ€™re motivated to make things work efficiently and effectively today, rather than looking strategically toward tomorrow.
Transformational leaders focus on positive changes and rely on motivation and inspiration to achieve them. They tend to expect a lot of themselves and others. They challenge, encourage and praise. Transformational leaders inspire workers in ways that go beyond rewards and penalties.
Transactional leadership is necessary. Itâ€™s built into our work life in the forms of paychecks, promotions and feedback, both positive and constructive, and itâ€™s needed. Transformational leadership helps people rise up together to do their best work and be their best selves.
D) Do you delegate masterfully?
Delegation is often a stumbling block for rising professionals. Attorneys and CPAâ€™s often resist delegation saying, â€œThere just isnâ€™t enough time. I can do it faster myself.â€ And thatâ€™s true, initially. When you delegate to a staff member or junior colleague for the first time, it will probably take longer than it would to do the work yourself. But, as you learn to delegate masterfully and you and your colleague learn how to work together, it becomes easier and faster to delegate the work.
Why should you learn to delegate masterfully? Learning to delegate is essential for you to move up in your organization. It will improve productivity, efficiency, satisfaction, retention and profitability. If you donâ€™t learn to delegate well, however, you will become a bottleneck, you wonâ€™t produce enough work and you wonâ€™t be promoted or grow your practice.
Start by auditing your time. Record all that you do for one or two weeks. Now, sort your activities into the following categories: 1) activities that you and you alone must do; 2) activities that you love to do; 3) activities you can delegate to others; and 4) activities you can simply stop doing or do less.
Keep what you and you alone must do. Keep what you love to do. Delegate what you can and what others need to learn. Stop doing â€“ or do less of â€“ activities you can stop or minimize.
When youâ€™ve concluded that a project is suitable for delegation, match the work to the right colleague, then provide an overview of the project and how your colleagueâ€™s work fits into the larger picture. When first working with a colleague, provide directions or suggestions. As trust builds, provide fewer instructions, but guide by asking questions: "How are you going to do this?" "What will you do if this happens?" Agree on a communication plan and timetable.
Make sure your colleague knows your door is open, virtually or otherwise, if questions or problems arise. Review the work and provide feedback and instructions â€“ with explanations â€“ for corrections that need to be made. Do NOT make the corrections yourself. Provide final feedback, both positive and constructive, when the project is complete. Accept responsibility for problems and use them as learning experiences. Give ample recognition for successful work and say "Thank you!"
Be patient with yourself and your colleagues as you learn to delegate and enter into new delegating relationships. Masterful delegation will improve efficiency, productivity and job satisfaction, benefitting you, your colleagues and your clients.
A) Learn your values and confirm that your values are consistent with those of your organization, B) Inspire your team with visionary and coaching leadership, C) Practice transformational leadership more than transactional leadership and D) Delegate masterfully. These are the behaviors of a strong and effective leader.
Please see my upcoming News and Insights for Step Four: Learn to bring in new business.