I’ve been in management for more than 30 years, and the first thing I want to say about the five leadership activities I’m about to share is  – I’m still working on them. All of them. All five. So, this will not make you an overnight leadership ninja. What I hope it does is put you on a continuous improvement track. Here are 5 things every leader should master.

Learn to Listen

Listening has never been easy, especially for me and my ADHD, but today it’s more complicated than ever. There is so much to distract us – smart phones, tablets, and open work areas not only add a degree of difficulty to attentive listening but also add to the acceptance of inattentiveness. Think about this. When’s the last time you asked someone to put down their device and listen?

To become a good listener, you must quit listening to yourself. Quit thinking about what you want to say while someone is talking. Stop interrupting people. Look folks in the eye when they speak. Take notes. Ask questions.

Practice – The next event you attend, whether it’s a meeting or a networking group, other than introducing yourself, do not speak unless spoken to and then limit your response to the reply. Don’t ramble on.

Quit Treating Everyone the Same       

You know everyone is different, don’t you? Sure you do, and yet if you’re like most of us, you continue to treat people all the same. You treat them as if they were you. They’re not. “What may be the biggest mistake that human beings make is when we assume others think as we do. We know this isn’t true, but instinctually, we interact with people as if they were just like us. Everyone isn’t you.” — Everyone Isn’t You — So Quit Treating Them as if They Were

And it isn’t only how we process information that sets us apart.

Different things motivate people.

How they communicate can be poles apart.

Folks learn differently. You may be a verbal processor, but the person next to you processes information internally, while others do best when they see it, or hear it, or do it.

We don’t all share the same talents, so if you naturally know how colors work together don’t expect everyone to share your skill.

Practice – The next time you’re training, communicating, or sharing information with someone ask their communication preference. How do they want the information delivered?

Become a Good Communicator

How does one become a good communicator? First, by being a great listener, and then by learning how others communicate. That’s the difficult part. After that, a great leader learns to continuously check understanding. You should never ask anyone, “Do you understand?” What do you expect them to say? Most people will say yes, even if they don’t know. So, instead of leading them, check their understanding. Have people repeat your communication back to you.

Practice – The next time you share information with someone say something like this, “I want to make certain we’re on the same page, can you repeat what I just said, please?”

Learn to Delegate

If you must do it all yourself to get it done correctly, then you and your businesses growth are limited to your ability to complete tasks. And here’s the thing. I don’t care how competent you are – you can only do so much.  “There’s more to delegating than just asking someone to do something. If you want to delegate effectively, you have to include mutual consultation and agreement between yourself and the members of your team. Solicit team members’ reactions and ideas, thereby bringing trust, support, and open communication to the process.” — 7 Tips to Help You Delegate More Effectively

Practice – Delegate a task that you usually complete to someone else on your team. Make sure they know what you expect, how to do it, and set a time to follow up.

Hold People Accountable 

When I was younger, I went through a management phase where I thought I was being a “nice” boss by not pointing out teammate’s mistakes. I wasn’t being a nice boss I was letting people fail. The truth is the majority of people in management positions don’t always hold people accountable for fear of conflict. If you want to help your team, you must change your thinking. Sharing with someone what they need to do isn’t confrontation; it’s help. So, help people.

Practice – The next time you need to hold someone accountable, correct them, or change what they’re doing, start with this. “Can we talk? I think I can help you.” Then outline the activities you expect.

5 Things Every Leader Should Master and More

Great leaders do more than these 5 things every leader should master. They share visions, they continuously train, and they lead by example. However, if you learn to listen, become a good communicator, hold people accountable by helping them, treat people as individuals, and learn to delegate you’ll be on your way to becoming a great leader.

How Can I help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a  management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Zan Ilic on Unsplash