4 Essential Qualities Of Leadership

Leadership is a personal quality and behavior, not a role or title. And it’s an increasingly important capability as enterprise diversity and distances between people increase. Distance and diversity are compounded by a massive gap between people, their work, goals and feedback. While it’s always been important for senior managers and executives to lead, it’s never been more important for front-line managers to do so.

Why is leadership at every level so important? Just 7% of people understand the goals of their organization and what they need to do to achieve them. Ironically, 76% of people say they use daily to-do lists. As many as 30% of U.S. workers work from home and many more work across different locations. It’s now both more important and more difficult to make the mission clear and relevant, engage people in goal achievement, drive accountability and give regular feedback to physically distributed team members.

While goals may be set top down, they are achieved — or fail — on the front line. If you are a first-, second- or third-line manager, you play a crucial part in translating abstract company vision into personally compelling mission for your direct reports. Elevating your leadership skills elevates your team’s results and your career. Cultivate these four qualities to expand your leadership impact and effectiveness, whether you have a team of seven or 700:

1. Clarity and vision
Leaders understand the problem or opportunity in front of them at its most essential level. Rather than the symptoms or byproducts of it, they understand the heart of it. They can articulate a clear, compelling vision for the solution to the problem or path forward to opportunity. Curiosity and deep interest in the intricacies of customer needs and markets build greater capacity in this leadership quality.

2. Ability to engage people realization and achievement 
Leaders engage others to solve the problem or realize the opportunity identified. It’s not only motivating or inspiring people to achieve; leaders can break that achievement down into actions, then coach and hold people accountable on the path to goal. It’s where the proverbial rubber meets the road — realizing the vision through effort, tenacity and execution. Build leadership credibility and influence by demonstrating a high level of effort and execution every day.

Elon Musk quote

3. Heightened awareness of change in the environment
Leaders are highly aware of the continuous change around them. They are adept at monitoring it, and quickly refactoring their problem/solution or opportunity statements to reflect the ever-changing environment. They know that anticipating where the puck will be and their response speed will improve their industry position (and their career trajectory). Build strength in this area by consciously — even voraciously — broadening and sharpening your listening skills.

4. Ability to influence and bring about change
When they combine clear vision, an ability to articulate a plan to execute and acute listening, leaders are more effective at driving the change they want to realize. More importantly, leaders combine greater understanding of change with genuine intent to provide real solutions and value. This amplifies their impact and influence — not because they talk a lot, but because they provide valued insights, assistance and answers. To amplify this quality, put your internal or external customer squarely at the center of your actions and conversation; the shift from self to others will vastly improve your results.

According to Deloitte, CEOs want more people to demonstrate leadership skills — it’s their most pressing talent concern: only 14% believe there are enough leaders in their management pipeline. Unfortunately, only 5% of these executives report having robust management and leadership development programs in place to help potential leaders build skills and rise through the organization!

While some managers feel overworked or stretched too thin, for motivated managers it’s a perfect time to build leadership competencies and skills. The need and the rewards are there! Many people now use a Line Manager App to increase their capacity to lead and improve their management efficiency. They spend less time on management fundamentals and step up to become the leader they want to be.

Leadership isn’t a job, it’s the way you do a job. Lead the way!

photo credit: Elon Musk via photopin (license)

#TChat Recap: Finding Your Business Vision

Finding Your Business Vision

Have we lost trust?

People don’t trust the idea of vision these days. What some organizations call vision is no more than a cleverly disguised marketing message.

Having a vision is extraordinary, but it will require key elements to turn it into reality for your organization. Vision takes serious work and continuous investment to keep it alive.

This week, Dr. Jesse Lyn Stoner, Founder of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership, shared 3 essential elements to a compelling business vision: purpose, values, and a clear picture of a desirable future.

People get lazy on vision: it takes a long-term plan. Leaders must live the vision consistently and integrate it into the organizational infrastructure.

Creating strategic visions doesn’t lie just with leadership. Visionary leaders involve everyone in the process. 

Give your talent a voice. That takes vision itself, but what is that vision about?

Purpose and values matter, especially when there is trust.

Create an authentic vision. Give the words of your vision life by involving others. People will rally behind the visionary leaders they believe in and trust.

See What #TChat-ters Said About Business Vision! 

What’s Up Next? #TChat Returns Wednesday March 4th! 

TChatRadio_logo_020813-300x300#TChat Radio Kicks Off at 7pm ET / 4pm PT — Our weekly radio show runs 30 minutes. Usually, our social community joins us on Twitter as well. The topic: 6 Steps To Building A Remarkable Workplace.

#TChat Twitter Kicks Off at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT — Our halfway point begins with our highly engaging Twitter discussion. We take a social inside look at our weekly topic. Everyone is welcome to share their social insights #TChat.

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Photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via Picjumbo 

DPR Construction Builds Culture That Works For Millennials

The founders of DPR Construction must have had a crystal ball when they launched their firm 24 years ago.

The small cadre of engineers that formed DPR embraced a flat culture over a hierarchical one, and that has proven to be a winner with young employees today.

Peter Salvati, a member of DPR’s management committee, says the general contracting firm abides by the principle of “what’s right, not who’s right” — that is, listening closely to all employees, regardless of position. “The person with the right answer may be who you least expect,” Salvati says.

Peter Salvati

Peter Salvati

“The Millennial generation fits in with ‘what’s right vs. who’s right.’”

Indeed, they do. Earlier this year, our research ranked Redwood City, California-based DPR as a Great Workplace for Millennials. This honor came on top of the company earning the 10th spot on the Best Companies to Work For 2014 list we produce with FORTUNE. DPR also is a winner in the general contracting world, where it boasts clients including Facebook, Pixar and Genentech.

Not only does the company snag high-profile projects, it connects its construction jobs to bigger purposes. When the company reached a milestone on a project to expand a biotech manufacturing facility, for example, it invited a cancer patient who would benefit from the drugs to be manufactured at the plant to speak to workers. This framing of work in terms of ultimate goals taps into Millennials’ desire for a sense of meaning on the job.

Says one Millennial: “DPR continues to empower employees and remain true to the core values and mission that it ‘Exist to Build Great Things,’ and you really feel like you are making a difference alongside some amazing people.”

Alongside—rather than under—is right. DPR is so egalitarian that it has no CEO. Instead, there is a shared leadership structure with a management committee of seven people. The company also is employee-owned, with all staffers getting phantom stock units that vest upon five years of tenure. And it is willing to give young people a great deal of responsibility, Salvati says.

On the other hand, he says, the firm expects junior staffers to be humble and savvy enough to seek assistance if necessary on stretch assignments. “You’ve got to be smart enough to realize you may need help,” he says.

Salvati can see himself in today’s ambitious young professionals. He was one of DPR’s earliest employees, and was given the responsibility of opening an office for the company in San Diego at the relatively tender age of 34. These days, the San Diego office is one of DPR’s strongest performing locations.

Salvati’s story highlights the original DPR vision, which works so well with young people today: hire quality people and trust them to take off. Says Salvati: “Really good people want to do really good things.”

About the Author: Ed Frauenheim is editor at workplace research site Great Rated!™, where he produces content and reviews companies.

photo credit: Trevor King 66 via photopin cc