How much of your day do you actually spend engaged in leading others?
Most leaders say things like, “I give 110%,” or “I can’t work any harder than I already do,” and even, “I put out fires all day. Then I do my work.”
Sound about right?
When you think back to your first leadership role what did leadership mean to you?
What did you envision for yourself and the people you’d be leading? What kind of impact did you imagine your leadership would have on not just the individuals you lead, but the entire organizational culture?
Actually, many people haven’t put much thought into these types of philosophical questions about leadership.
For most workers, assuming a leadership role (or management/supervisory if you must) is just the next logical step in their career; a reward for their hard work and success.
Perhaps you imagined having people who could help do all the work; a team that looked up to you for guiding them with your wisdom.
Instead of fulfilling those rosy dreams of leadership, corporate leaders often find themselves feeling pressed for time, under-resourced, and constantly overwhelmed and over-stressed by all their responsibilities.
Most leaders spend more time reacting to their day than proactively leading it.
People often go through the motions of their day without being fully engaged in their actions.
The result is a day filled with crisis management, meetings, and running from place to place on “leadership autopilot.”
You answer a question here, give a directive there, but there’s little time or motivation to have meaningful or inspiring conversations with your employees.
Leadership is the ability to inspire action, in yourself and others.
As a Leader, if you aren’t engaged, inspired, and passionate about your work, just imagine how your employees must feel!
(*Hint: Employee engagement begins with leader engagement. If you’re not feelin’ it, they’re not feelin’ it either, I promise you that.)
Consider these common behaviors, their consequences, and tips on how to lead more intentionally.
1. Modeling distraction, not engagement.
If you have an “open door” policy but fail to give people your undivided attention when they come to talk with you it can send unintended signals that they’re unimportant. The same goes for checking phones during meetings.
- As a leader, you’re constantly in the spotlight. Your employees look to you to set the example for how to behave and will follow your lead.
- Strive to model engagement by turning off your computer and looking at people when they come to speak with you.
- Ask for permission to defer a meeting until you finish up your immediate task. Leaders have to work, too. It’s okay to be unavailable at times if you explain your intentions.
2. Doing more talking than listening.
Leaders often assume that they are expected to provide all the answers and direction. Often, this can disempower employees who have ideas to share and want to make valuable contributions.
- Don’t assume you know what someone wants or needs. Ask lots of open-ended questions and be prepared to listen.
- When someone explains a concern, it’s important to acknowledge and validate their perspective (even if you don’t agree).
- Help employees find their own solutions. Learning works best when we experience it for ourselves!
3. Being reactive rather than proactive.
Crises inevitably occur, but proactively planning work leads to the greatest achievement of results.
- Take time to plan your work to drive your actions. Discuss these plans openly and regularly with your team to increase their awareness of priorities. Our energy follows our intentions!
- Model resilience: When a crisis occurs, reframe the situation to focus on the opportunities ahead.
- Demonstrate emotional intelligence. Remember no one can make you think, feel, or behave in any way—that is always within your control.
If you’re interested in changing your own work habits to create a more productive environment for yourself and those you lead, schedule a Complimentary Discovery Call with me to discuss your current challenges and to get clear on what your next steps may be.
You can also download my free gift, “The Rule-Breaker’s Guide to Managing Your Energy at Work” to begin taking back control of your energy and success!