Commit To Building New Leadership Habits

What is it you want to accomplish in 2015? What steps and actions will you take to achieve your goals?

Chances are your first thought was about improving your direct work product, productivity or domain skills rather than improving your competencies as a manager. However, if your goals include a career and performance leap, improving your leadership skills may be the decisive factor in your success.

Most managers and executives work hard, but hard work isn’t the same as leading the way. Harvard Business Review, McKinsey and Gallup cite how managers spend their time as the root cause of many terrible employee statistics – too much time is spent on low-level tasks like getting and reporting facts and not enough is spent communicating goals, holding people accountable, and providing coaching and feedback.

A giant career and performance leap requires a real leap in leadership and management practices because achieving truly remarkable results requires a team of people wholly aligned and committed to ambitious shared goals coupled with management discipline to drive transparency and high-velocity execution.

Assess Your Current Management Practices

Well-understood goals and metrics, clarity on the specific actions required to achieve those goals, progress accountability and feedback and reward practices are the hallmarks of good management. Assess your current management practices with these questions:

  1. When was the last time you communicated goals to the team, and how frequently did you communicate them in 2014?
  2. When was the last time you communicated specific feedback to each member of the team, and how frequently did you in 2014?
  3. What are your top priorities and strategic initiatives for the first half of the year? How well can you articulate them yourself?
  4. What are your top 10 deliverables in the next 30 days?
  5. How long does it take you to get execution status from team members on goals and how frequently do you get it?

How would your team members answer similar questions? Do you know what their career aspirations are, and how your feedback helps them achieve those goals? How effective are the managers and leaders on your team?

People can’t achieve goals they don’t understand or care about, can’t get motivated when they don’t feel appreciated, won’t follow through if no one is accountable, and can’t improve without feedback.

Resolve to Manage Better To Achieve More

Building new management competencies and leading your team to remarkable achievements means developing new habits and practices.

The framework and infographic below can help you create new habits that will you accomplish more in 2015.

Baseline: Establish systems of transparency on goals, priorities, committed actions, and progress to plan to create accountability and the capacity for better leadership.

Anchor on Mondays: Anchor your week and your actions with your intention to lead your team to great achievement (versus muscle it yourself). Get centered on strategic goals and assess what’s needed to achieve them.

Mission on Tuesdays: Reinforce the goals and metrics that matter for your team. Ensure team activities wholly align with goal achievement through direct engagement and assess goal gaps early in the week.

Coach on Wednesdays: Invest time in enabling your team members to succeed. Rather than asking for status, ask what you can do to help. Listen to the answers and work to provide the help requested.

Execute on Thursdays: Allocate the full day to executing what you need to achieve personally. Guard against diversions on misaligned or reactionary activities (e.g., ignore email missiles!) so you spend a full eight hours accomplishing priority work.

Invest on Fridays: Tune into your team and reflect on your top, mid and bottom performers and their unique needs and contributions. Allocate time to advancing their careers by providing direct feedback, support for training or skill-building programs or opportunities to excel.

Rejuvenate on Saturdays: Don’t work, not even a little. Renew your energy with exercise and enjoyment. Give yourself permission to set work aside for the day to give your mind the day off.

Reflect on Sundays: Bring your inspirations and aspirations consciously to mind on Sunday evening; reconnect with your resolution to drive remarkable achievement. Drop all doubt about your ability to achieve.

The daily themes will help keep you from sliding back into old habits and reacting to what comes at you.

Week by week, habits will align more closely to intentions, the mission will be clearer to the team, the quality of coaching will get better, execution more consistent and your ultimate results will be stellar.

About the Author: Deidre Paknad is currently the CEO of Workboard, Inc. Workboard provides apps for managers and their teams to share goals, action items, status and feedback and to automate status reports and dashboards, and is free for teams.

photo credit: ErinBerzelPhotography-4390 via photopin (license)

Channel Your Inner Madonna to Trigger a Career Shift

(Editor’s Note: All of us in the TalentCulture community mourn the loss of our dear friend, brilliant colleague and mindful mentor, Judy Martin, who passed away unexpectedly on January 31, 2014. Her message and her life are a lesson for us all. We will forever fondly remember her humor, warmth and wisdom.)

Emboldened with new courage to brave the unknown and strive for greatness, I cut the neck and sleeves of my Madonna t-shirt last night. This was no small task. It’s been sitting in my dresser drawer for 6 years. Seriously, I’m not kidding. Every time I opened that draw to grab my yoga clothing, it’s been staring me in the face. That is until tonight.

I took the plunge and cut the darn thing so I could finally wear it (I should have gotten a large) and it was the most liberating action I’ve taken in years. The cutting of the shirt was a great metaphor I came to realize, for breaking a barrier that was literally keeping me from making some important career and creative business decisions.

Sometimes we have to just do something radically different in our daily lives, even if it means getting out of our comfort zone. Madonna in general is the icon of re-invention, she has taken many risks. She has known success and failure. But she constantly refuels, renews and reinvents her life and career. So channeling YOUR inner Madonna might also be a tactic to try something outrageously new and different. What shift are you avoiding, and if you made the plunge what would you learn? I asked myself that question.

Cutting the Madonna T-Shirt and the Lessons Learned

Cutting the shirt brought up all kinds of inner stuff about taking risks in my career, doing something off the beaten path in my work life trajectory, and forced me to move forward even in the face of certain trial and error. I did succeed (in cutting the shirt and other goals as you will discover at the end of this post), but I had to deconstruct and contemplate first. (If you’re a Madonna freakazoid like I have been most of my life, you’ll better understand what appears to be a ridiculous act.)

I bought this t-shirt at Madison Square Garden during Madonna’s 2004 Re-Invention Tour, but I never wore it because:

  • 1. It was too tight around the neck, and I was afraid to stretch it. Where can you stretch your life or career? Are you procrastinating, feel you’re not up to the task, or just not making the time to do it?
  • 2. I refused to cut it, because I didn’t want to ruin it, as it might shred. What are you afraid of? What will you ruin if you take a risk and try something new, like learning a new skill? Will extra work be involved and will follow-through require more of a commitment to personal or career growth?
  • 3. The wording on the back says, “Everyone is a star” So I thought people would judge me if I wore it. Do you really care what others will think if you decide to pick up ballet classes even though you’re a klutz? Are you concerned about going back to school for a new career in a recovering economy?
  • 4. I was saving it for a special occasion. Really? When’s your boat going to come in? Life is too short in this body anyway. I suggest taking the lead from  “Nike” – just do it!

Change Something, Reinvent Something, Remember Something Joyful

Even if you are not thrilled with your job, you can create some unusual aberration to change up the pace or the structure of your job, the way you spend your time, the way you organize your day, the way you relate to your co-workers, or even your boss. You can take a risk, learn a new skill, make a new creative suggestion. Maybe there’s something in your job or career from the past that has given you lots of joy. Igniting passion in your work calls for nothing less than the re-invention of your work or life perception, even in a job that you disdain. Even for just one day. You’ll be amazed at what you can discover. It might be the shift you need just to get through another day.

For example, at my personal blog, I decided to do something completely different than I had ever done before. I  just started Sanctum Sundays of Work Life Bliss. It’s a portal of information that can help you to just stop, contemplate your life, engage your belief system and also catch up on some inspirational work life news. I also decided to deepen my yoga practice by committing to a new training. The decision to take those leaps emerged as I was contemplating cutting the t-shirt. It was just time to cut the sh–.

For those of you who can just imagine what a better place the world would be if we just embraced our greatness. A taste of Madonna from her 2004 Reinvention Tour!