4 Leadership Skills Every Organization Should Teach

Everyone is a leader of something.

With skeleton crews and new leaders everywhere I look, leadership has never been more important for your organization.   To make an organization successful, we all must lead and it’s not as simple as giving orders, training, or asking for daily TPS reports.

Here are four skills that every leadership-centered organization should teach to their valuable staff members:

1) Self Leadership

It starts with you. If you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others.

This one is easy to understand, yet so hard to execute sometimes.  I still can’t get myself to do things I need to do sometimes (shhhh, don’t tell anyone).  Self leadership is the base for every great organization and should be widely understood.

Anyone looking to advance their career must lead themself first.

2) Delegation

Classic leadership.  You pick tasks that need to be done and ask one of your direct report team members to do it.  Simple, right?  The three big challenges are knowing what to delegate, how to communicate, and letting go after you delegate.

(Disclosure: This one requires people to report to you.  Don’t delegate to peers or higher level leaders.  It doesn’t work well.)

3) Empowerment

This is simple.  You hire/keep good people and get out of their way.  You don’t tell them what to do (delegate), but instead set a vision for what goals need to be met. The hardest part?  Hiring the right person.

Higher level leaders must learn to empower their best team members and delegate everything that isn’t a core function.  Then they can focus on the leadership activities that make an organization soar: vision setting, relationship building, collaboration with others, and self leadership.

Yes, self leadership.

The funny thing about empowerment is that in order for it to be successful, the person being empowered needs to keep working on self leadership. The higher you go, the fewer people telling you what to do.

Self leadership isn’t just for the entry-level.

4) Collaboration

This one isn’t usually included as a leadership function, but I think it should be.  

It’s a hybrid of self leadership and empowerment between two or more leaders.  On one hand, you empower the other party, help set a vision, and then get out of the way.  On the other, you lead yourself to complete your side of the collaboration.

It’s a sort of shared leadership that requires a lot of skill to keep a collaboration moving forward without hurting egos or losing vision.  We’ll see even more demand for this leadership skill as more and more small business leaders look for inter-organizational synergies.

Summary

I truly believe “leadership” is not just for the top people in an organization.

Every member of your team should become proficient at one of more of these leadership skills.  Entry level team members with an eye on promotion need to be self leaders.  When those same entry level leaders work with other self leaders, they need to become skilled at collaborating.

An organization of leaders will be a leading organization.

Be a leader tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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A New Policy: “You Manage Yourself”

The other day, I wrote about about my experience with adopting a “One Life” policy.

It sparked a great discussion and I got a chance to meet some really amazing leaders who felt the same way.  Apparently we’re on to something.  It’s time to change!

However, I think it’s missing something.

In order for the “One Life” policy to work, it needs the “You Manage Yourself” policy to go with it.

Here’s how it looked:

“You will be led by strong leadership, but must manage yourself.

On our team it will be possible to get away with cutting corners, faking sick days, two hour lunches, stealing Post-it notes, and other activities that happen under poor management.  However as your manager, you will be responsible for what happens under your watch.  You must achieve your objectives and manage your talent to reach the success that is expected and required.

  • If you need help, lean on your leaders.
  • If you want advice, ask for it.
  • If you make mistakes, admit them.  Then move on.

It won’t be easy and this may be your first management position, but we believe in you.”

If leaders are going to find focus and time to lead, everyone on the team must manage themselves.

Here’s why:

1)  The “One Life” policy makes things too complicated

Once you let humanity into your organization, it gets complicated.  Imagine trying to track how much time people are doing “home life” activities vs. “work life”.  How do you quantify and measure what’s appropriate?  Humans are complicated.

Some leaders fear adding more “stuff” onto their already full plate and that’s why rigid rules were made in the first place.  Rules make things simple, but simple doesn’t work anymore.  So, when it finally gets complicated, it’s time to delegate the management.

2)  It’s impossible to manage another human

Unless you are in manufacturing or similar controlled environment, it is simply not possible to truly manage another human.  Human management is a myth.  Heck, half the time I can’t manage myself.  Good luck controlling the emotions, hormones, or motivations of someone else.

Since humans aren’t that easy to control, why wouldn’t you promote the person who knows your employee best?  They have more experience than you do.

3)  Empower your people and they will have the power to do amazing things

Most people want to do great things with their lives.  Only hire those type of people. If you find out that your team member doesn’t care to do much with their life, help them find a new job.  The old saying goes “Hire great people and get out of their way” and the “You Manage Yourself” policy is the most complete way to do that.

Also, the “You Manage Yourself” policy frees leaders to do the one thing they need to do most:  Lead.  No more excuses.  Leaders must lead and managers must manage. Collaborate with creating measurable goals, keep managers that win, and help the rest get new jobs.

Keep it nice and simple.

Have a great night!

Aaron@Biebert

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