“The instrument of leadership is the self, and the mastery of the art of leadership comes from the mastery of the self.” – Charles Manz
Being a new leader can feel equal parts challenging and exciting. There are hundreds of books with great theories on how to be a good leader, but the play book you really need to master is the one you already have within yourself.
Leadership is an art, it’s not a science, and the instrument of leadership is the self. As a leader, the pebble you cast in the water creates a ripple effect which can be positive or negative, depending on where you throw it.
You were likely promoted because you’ve mastered skills that your boss hopes you’ll pass on to others. But having functional skills doesn’t always equate to being a good leader. Good leadership isn’t just about what you do, it’s equally important how you show up when you do it. It’s being able to bring all of your wisdom in working with and through others in ways that inspire those you lead to offer their very best.
Here are the 5 C’s to Leadership Success that can help you bring your A-game as a new leader (Caring, Contribution, Collaboration, Cultivation and Communication):
- Show them you care. There’s an old saying that’s trite but true: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Recent leadership research has demonstrated that you have to connect before you can lead and that combining warmth and strength as a leader is a powerful combination. To demonstrate you care about your people, get to know them as human beings, not just as contributors. Understand what they care about inside and outside of work. Let them know that who they are is as important as what they contribute.
- Help people contribute their best. Three out of 10 workers in the US are engaged at work, and one of the major reasons this is happening is because workers don’t feel that their contributions are valued. As a leader, look for opportunities every day for your people to contribute their passions, skills and talents. Find stretch assignments that help them grow and thrive. Always let them know how their contributions matter to the work and to the team.
- Be collaborative. The best boss I had in my corporate career gave me some great advice as I was embarking on my first big leadership role. She said, “Always hire people that are smarter than you because they make you look good.” Surround yourself with great people, support them to be successful and give them opportunities to shine. Build a collaborative team where everyone feels that their voice and ideas matter. Admit when you’re wrong and take good advice from others, regardless of their role. You are only as strong as your weakest link, so build a solid chain that’s greater than the sum of its parts because everyone feels invited to contribute.
- Be a cultivator of talent. Rather than thinking of your job as a talent manager, think of it as a talent cultivator. When someone on your team believes they are only capable of making it to the second mile marker, inspire and coach them to get to the third. The greatest legacy you can leave behind as a leader is when one of your people says, “I’d never be where I am today if you hadn’t believed in me and pushed me further than I believed I could go.”
- Be explicit in your communications. One of the biggest mistakes new leaders make is assuming people know what they mean when they haven’t made everything clear. Always err on the side of over-communicating, and check in with your people to make sure that they heard what you meant. It takes time, but asking for feedback on what people thought they heard on the front end helps gain alignment earlier in the process and enables you not to have to go back and redo things later.
Donna Stoneham, PhD, is a master executive coach, transformational leadership expert, educator and speaker with over twenty-five years of experience helping Fortune 1000 and not-for profit leaders, teams, and organizations unleash their power to thrive™ in work and life. She is President of Positive Impact, LLC and is the author of the award winning book, The Thriver’s Edge: Seven Keys to Transform the Way You Live, Love, and Lead named by BuzzFeed as “Nine Awesome Books for your Kick-Ass Career.” Take Donna’s Thriver Quiz at www.DonnaStoneham.com and follow her at email@example.com and DonnaStonehamPhD@facebook.com.