Where are we going in 2022? I’ve heard this question from many of my clients as we are winding down this year and looking into the next. This is a hard question to answer because it seems the path ahead keeps shifting and is not clear enough to us. In these times when everything is so fluid, it is important to remember that great leaders are needed to drive engagement, culture, and performance. As with everything else in the world right now, we are needing to shift the way we operate and lead our teams as power will be balanced between those who lead and our employees. Those great leaders are finding ways to engage their teams and get work done. In my research and observations of what is working in the “Great Reshuffle”, I discovered common leadership traits that make some leaders stand out from other leaders. These traits and behaviors are based in these essential elements:
- Communication style: words matter, and trust is built on how well you can connect with your team.
- Conflict style/preference: do you have strategies to work through conflict on your team? Or do you avoid it when possible?
- Recognition of other’s achievements: everyone has a role to play and highlighting/leveraging your team’s strengths is a great way to encourage a high-performing team.
- Coaching/feedback: we all need some guidance along the way, including ourselves. Build relationships with our employees to better understand how to best support and guide them to be the best they can be.
- Self-awareness: understanding how you show up in the world and how others see you.
- Dealing with ambiguity: we will not have all the answers but leading through uncertainty will be key in the coming years.
- Change leadership: navigating the multitude of shifts in strategy; connecting people to the purpose of our organizations.
Each of these elements are measured in degrees, on a scale or continuum. How we handle ourselves as leaders in the moment day after day is how we are measured by our teams. Some key behaviors, when practiced consistently, can have a huge impact on a team’s effectiveness.
Regardless of your predominant leadership style, the following are some essential steps for successful leadership in the coming years:
- Understand each of your team member’s preferred leadership style.
- Deliver customized/personalized leadership to each team member.
- Recognize tone, attitude, and nonverbal cues [where possible] in reaction to your words and actions; adjust as needed.
- Avoid derailing behaviors* (remember, you are the positive influence and representative of the organization and of what it is trying to accomplish).
- Most of all, be authentic! People appreciate real leaders.
What are some essential leadership traits you find useful? Don’t worry if you are less skillful in certain areas. These skills and behaviors can be practiced and refined over time. It may take a few tries before you get it right, but believe me, your team will notice and appreciate the effort.
*I go into more detail on what derailing behaviors are in my book, “Top of the Mountain Leadership: The Future of Performance and Productivity in a Technology Changing World.” If you want to know more about what they are and why you should avoid them, check it out.