In the last few posts we have discussed some leadership skills you need to be an effective leader. These skills help you to deliver the outstanding results you and your organization are striving for. And above all else, achieving results is ultimately how you will be judged as a leader.
Before addressing the next leadership topic, it bears repeating that it is extremely important to understand and internalize that empathy and active listening is a required skillset.
Whatever your leadership style, without learning to incorporate this approach to communication and interaction, you are missing a fundamental leadership capability. This skill allows you to communicate effectively and positively influence the people you are leading. (Refer to previous blog posts to learn how you can significantly improve these skills.)
What are some other important leadership skills?
Once you have mastered empathy and active listening, you must be able to execute—to get things done. Execution involves two important elements: the ability to prioritize and the ability to follow through.
Prioritizing your work and the work of others is determined with respect to what is important to your stakeholders. This could be your Board of Directors, your supervisor, or both. Check with your stakeholders on a regular basis because priorities can and do change quickly. This can also save a lot of unnecessary work and frustration down the road. Ensure that the work you are assigning aligns with the overall goals and strategies of your organization. After you complete a major project, it is helpful to revisit your list of priorities to make sure they are still valid and in the proper order of importance.
Following through is the second important component of executing, and frequently the most challenging. To facilitate follow-through, you need to embed operating mechanisms in your organization to ensure work is completed effectively and efficiently.
Operating mechanisms are any processes or procedures you implement to ensure quality work is completed. Operating mechanisms help change culture and can be both simple and complex. One example of a simple operating mechanism is a to-do list, a tool that all leaders must use. All staff members should be required to use one as well. Leaders should regularly meet with their staff to review to-do lists and revise as needed to help maintain alignment with goals and guide productivity.
Another effective operating mechanism is a project plan. A project without a plan is nothing more than good intentions. Any major project that is not being managed through a plan is at significant risk of failure. Large companies use them regularly; however, I have not seen them used on a consistent basis elsewhere. A project that has a duration of 30+ days and is a senior management priority needs a project plan. If you are not currently using project plans, adopt this operating mechanism and watch your results dramatically improve.
Next time we will begin examining the differences between contributing as an individual and as a leader and how this impacts your ability to deliver results.