4 attributes to lead strong




Leadership in 2020 has been a workout for most leaders. It had challenged leaders to assess their business and adapt to changing times. Today in The Innovative Leader Podcast, David and Christy look at four attributes that support leaders to keep moving forward. When times are simpler and things can just be maintained, it is easier to sluff off these leadership skills (not that sluffing is ever advised but leaders can get away with not challenging themselves as much). When complexity increases, people feel insecure and there are greater unknowns to navigate through, a leader has to step into their strong A-game. These four attributes are four common areas that leaders can waffle on. Taking the time to ensure you are paying strong attention to implementing these skills will support you to move into 2021 with greater confidence, focus, and support.

1.Be Rigorous about your Self-Assessment and Growth

This is about a leader’s ability to hear and apply REAL feedback. It is intimidating to give a leader feedback, and like most humans, feedback is hard to hear. Like it or not, when you are at the top, it can be harder to hear feedback, because you are in charge… so you don’t usually get feedback and you have position yourself where you are usually the one giving feedback. Hearing tough feedback, however, allows leaders to level up their skills and continue to lead strong. It is worth it but requires skill to be humble enough to hear it and growth-minded enough to apply it.

2. Practice Designed Accountability with Others

Accountability is a follow-up that supports people to do what they say they are going to do (integrity).  It allows for feedback, reflection, getting on the same page, keeping headed toward the same goal, catching any information that was missing or inadvertently not shared, catching any blind spots, clearing up misunderstandings, and just stay on track (timeline). It says you care and paying attention; engaged. It allows them to check in on milestones and creates a natural space for discussion that is not punitive or micromanaging.   A great time for accountability is in weekly or bi-weekly 1-1 meetings.

3. Have tough conversations

Often we think these are just when there is a conflict that needs to be had.  Tough conversations can also be the long-overdue accountability (which starts to feel bad because since it is so late, the stakes are high, things are often missed, the pressure is on and it can feel very shaming or punitive). The truth is, when leaders are willing to have tough conversations things get cleared up and it lessens the number of tough conversations that will be needed later because of things we avoid. Sometimes we want to be liked and lack thick skin. We make assumptions or want to dismiss the need for the conversation find excuses and letting people off the hook in the name of “empathy and understanding”. The reality is, when we don’t lean into the tough conversations we miss the opportunity to move things forward, take a stand for people and what matters. We don’t address the “elephant in the room” and allow awkwardness to unconsciously and subtly influence. Tough conversations really say you care and are willing to have the uncomfortable dialogue for the sake of a better and clearer path ahead.

4. Be A Compassionate Listener while Maintaining Clear Direction

As a leader, our work is to hold the light on the path to where we are going. The vision, mission, purpose, and direction. As we do that we allow the team to align their work to support that direction. As the team is navigating, however, things happen, there are struggles and challenges. Being a compassionate and understanding listener is key. Taking into account the obstacles and brainstorming solutions is important. Sometimes as leaders we can be tempted to abandon the mission when followers get stuck. The art of leadership is being able to hold the big picture and take feedback and face challenges while continuing to move forward. It is a delicate balance to listen and respond, but not so much so that organization spins because the leader has gotten focused more on the challenges than the larger purpose. Remind your team of the goal and “why”. Find win-win solutions and a path forward. When we listen and co-design ways to overcome challenges while keeping the focus on the ultimate goal we are able to connect and have compassion and also continue to lead the team forward toward goals and success.

Thank you for listening to The Innovative Leader Podcast! Our goal each week is to connect with leaders and share thoughts to equip, inspire, and transform how we LEAD in life and work. Please follow the podcast on YouTube or any Podcast Channel. We love when leaders leave comments to share your ideas and thoughts as well as sharing resources that have helped you LEAD well.
Here’s to your success!
David Phillip, Leadership Consultant
Christy Geiger, Executive Leadership Coach

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