Early on in my leadership, I often did the right thing but went about it the wrong way. As I grew as a leader, I recognized the need to do the right thing and also go about it in the right way. Now coaching hundreds of leaders I have been able to help them experience this same metamorphosis.
Here are some ways we can become kinder, gentler leaders.
1. Don’t lead fatigued.
When we are tired, we become angry and agitated. Don’t be an angry, agitated, leader. Go to work rested and replenished or don’t go! You’ll be a mean leader if you do.
2. Spend more time on the WHY than the WHAT.
Managers focus on WHAT. Leaders focus on WHY. Empower someone else on the team to do most of the WHAT: in your meetings and during your week. Be a life-giving leader, not a micromanager that sucks the life out of everyone and everything!
3. Take a weekly stroll through the offices.
This is important! Don’t wait until you have time to take a leisurely stroll through the office. Place it on the calendar! Make every interaction you have with your team members be the highlight of their week.
4. Be demanding without being demeaning.
Great leaders challenge their teams to continue to improve and get better without running over them or talking down to them. Be positive and firm. Expect the best without being a perfectionist. Raise the bar FOR them not too high ABOVE them. Avoid superlatives. Don’t drive home the point too deeply. Make expectations clear and trust the process.
5. Tell people I love them.
If you think about it, love empowers coaching and accountability. If I know someone loves me I will more readily allow them to speak into my life. The same is true with the people I lead. If they know I love them they will more readily accept my coaching and accountability! Tell people you love them you are speaking into their lives because you know they can grow.
6. Assume the best about people.
Don’t assume the worst about the person or the situation. They are probably not out to get you and probably didn’t mean anything by it. It wasn’t intentional and people make mistakes. Don’t take everything so personal! Be a professional!
7. Keep a clean slate and a short memory.
Don’t wait a year and then call the team member into your office and go down the laundry list of their sins over the last year. Confront quickly. Talk to them sooner rather than later. When you do, stick to the issue at hand. Don’t be the elephant that remembers everything. Be the puppy that has a short memory!
8. Do the right thing the right way.
Deciding what needs to be done is the easiest part. Determining how it needs to be done and said is the most difficult part. If you do the right thing the wrong way it will still do a lot of damage! Spend as much or more time determining HOW this needs to be said and done as you determine what needs to be said and done. Improving situations and relationships is the ultimate goal!