May 11, 2022

5 Areas of Focus for Greater Leadership Effectiveness      

by Jeremiah Shaw

Sometimes as leaders, we find ourselves feeling like our personal leadership is falling short. Maybe we’ve found ourselves in what feels like constant conflict or employee turnover, or perhaps we are new to this leadership world and want to increase and maximize our potential. Either way, we hope that the below areas help bring you back to the basics as you wade through this journey of leadership.

Be Consistent. 

Ever heard the story of the tortoise and the hare? If you haven’t read it, you might think about getting on Amazon and adding it to your list of leadership reads. It is one of the shorter leadership books but holds high-impact lessons. It is funny how childhood books can be like that. Personally, I love this story, and I think it cuts directly to the heart of Strata Leadership’s C3 Concept.

Character + Competency = Consistency

We have all worked for the hare type manager. Fast some days, other days sleeping on the job, only to be caught off guard the next day and then expecting you to be right there by their side keeping pace. It is a pacing problem, and pacing problems are consistency problems. If we can’t pace together, we can’t race together as a team, and inconsistent managers can’t hold clear expectations, set realistic goals, hold accountability, or worse, build trust with the teams. What are our character and competency on topics like punctuality, patience, discipline, cooperation, communication, etc.? Are we always punctual? Do we always communicate clearly? Do our teams know how we will respond in each situation? Are we predictable for those around us as we set the pace? Or are we like the hare? I think I’d work well with the character and competency of the turtle. For a great resource, also see James Clear’s book on Atomic Habits and his 1% rule and the power of consistency.

Find Empathy. 

Empathy is a connection. It is how we truly hear others and find presence with the individual on our team, and presence is key to influence. Empathy can be a critical skill for leaders that want to truly understand how to read human environments. Leaders that understand how to read a room can capture, decipher, and use these data points to lead teams and make the right decision. One of the hardest areas for a leader to find empathy is making time. Try scheduling some time and create margin to empathize with an individual on the team with that you might feel unconnected. Recent national research has shown that employees are increasingly feeling disengaged at work. Maybe empathy is the solution?

Increase Communication Skills. 

Remember, empathy is a connection, and the road to connection is communication. Our team discusses communication a lot. In fact, it is the most requested training to date and maybe the number one focus in leadership and executive coaching sessions outside of self-awareness. There is little doubt this is a theme in the cooperative world across the board. So, here are three ways to immediately increase your communication as a leader.

  • Listen
    • What is the person really saying?
    • Do you fully understand them and their position?
    • When you think they’ve said it all ask, “and what else.” 
    • What are their face and body saying? 
  • Ask Great Questions
    • Let the listening guide the questions.
    • Great questions are open-ended and typically start with the word “what.” 
  • Be curious 
    • Where are you making judgments and assumptions? 
    • Let your questions lead you to places that you are surprised.
    • Let go of preconceived agendas before the conversation. See what is truly there to be found. 

Be human, be humble. 

As leaders, we must model what it looks like to bring our whole selves to work. This includes the times when we mess up. Brene Brown speaks a lot about being human in the workplace, specifically the idea of vulnerability, transparency, and admitting failure. She speaks about vulnerability like this. 

“The definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. But vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our most accurate measure of courage. When the barrier is our belief about vulnerability, the question becomes: ‘Are we willing to show up and be seen when we can’t control the outcome?’

When the barrier to vulnerability is about safety, the question becomes: ‘Are we willing to create courageous spaces so we can be fully seen?” 

No one wants to do this life alone, and while we spend most of our lives at work, shouldn’t we strive to make it what we are, human? We all want to belong, we all want to be known, and the incredible truth is that this doesn’t make our organizations and bottom line weaker. It makes them stronger. As leaders, it is our responsibility to model this and create an environment where this idea of being human is understood and allowed. We must make it normal to be human, to be imperfect, and to learn from failure. This is where innovation lives and where true success is birthed. Dr. Carol Dweck speaks of the power of learning from failure in her book Growth Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn To Fulfill Our Potential. 

Stick to your values and sleep better. 

In coaching, we strive to understand what matters to you as a leader. Values are banners that market our belief systems. Values are what matter most to us. So, many times when meeting with leaders, we recognize internal or external disruption and misalignment. Usually, there is a value misalignment. Whether cultural or situational, it is easy, especially for new leaders, to make a decision or react in a way that does not align with who they are or who they want to be. Explore your values, write them down and use them to connect back to the organization and make decisions as a leader. 

Remember, we can’t know what we don’t know. The power of coaching can increase your awareness around your leadership blind spots, accelerate your learning, and help you maximize and celebrate what is already working. If you feel that you might be able to maximize your effectiveness, let’s explore this together and see if coaching would be a great fit for your next season as a leader. 

References and Resources

Brown Brené. (2019).  Braving the Wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone. Random House.

Clear, J. (2021). Atomic habits: Tiny changes, remarkable results: An easy & proven way to build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. CELA.

Dweck, C. S. (2017). Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential. Robinson.