ArrowLeaderI don’t believe leadership is about your accomplishments or credentials.  It’s about your presence.  It’s what’s inside that makes you stand out.  Leadership is often defined by how others view you.

It’s not easy to be an effective leader.  You know you have experience and knowledge – others see it as arrogance.  You think you are contributing in a real and meaningful way – others see it as butting in.  You think you are enabling others – others see you as ignoring them.  You just can’t win.

Leadership does not need to be complex or complicated to be effective.  In fact, when you keep your leadership practices simple, you are more apt to practice them on a daily basis.  You can effectively LEAD with four strategies:  Listen, Encourage, Act, and Delegate.

Listen: When was the last time you really heard what was being said?  The next time one of your project teammates approaches you with an issue, stop everything you are doing, tune out all distractions, and give him/her your undivided attention.  Listen fully; don’t finish his/her sentences; never say “I knew that.”  Don’t use “no”, “but” or “however”; if you are preparing a response in your head as someone else is talking, you have effectively tuned him/her out.

Encourage: We all need positive reinforcement, it is human nature.  Yet, as a leader, when was the last time you offered genuine encouragement to someone?  Small words of encouragement go a long way.  Simple words are authentic; they represent true feelings, exhibit sincerity.  When was the last time you said “Please” when asking someone to do something for your or the project?  Did you exhibit gratitude by saying “Thank you?”  Don’t forget “I’m sorry” when you screw up or admit “I don’t know” when you don’t have the answer.

Act: Effective leaders must define and state their expectations.  Do your teammates know what you expect of them?  How do you want the team to operate?  How will individuals be held accountable?

Delegate: Delegation is not about dumping the work you don’t want to do on to others; it’s about involving everyone on your team.  When we under delegate, we under-tap our resources.  When we over delegate, we overburden others.  Purposely delegate at every meeting; delegate with clear expectations.  Delegate across your constituency; leverage economies of scale, don’t play favorites.

So, listen more, talk less.  Remember that positive reinforcement keeps people engaged.  Always act in an honorable and open way; set expectations and discover rules to live by.  Enhance involvement with thoughtful and consistent delegation.  LEAD on!

Lisa DiTullio, Principal, Lisa DiTullio & Associates, LLC


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