65 Chapters
Medium 9781605093451

41 It’s All about Them

Arneson, Steve Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Showcase Your People

THE FUNNY THING about leadership is it’s not about you at all. Isn’t that something? All this hard work to develop yourself and it’s not even really about you. It’s about your direct reports and their teams, the people who benefit most from your improved leadership. Oh sure, you get something out of it too—the broader your skill set, the more attractive you are to your current (and future) employer. And leading more effortlessly gives you confidence, allows you to do more, and sets your career on an upward trajectory. But let’s go back to your team and the whole essence of leadership, which is to help a group of people do more than they think they can do. In the end, leadership is about people; it’s about developing and growing their knowledge, skills, and abilities. It’s about helping them pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. This brings us to one of your obligations as a leader: showcasing your team to the organization.

If you’re the only one who knows how great your team is, you’re not doing all you can to advance your peoples’ reputations in the company, which it turn, fuels their careers. You are their sponsor, their guardian angel, and there are two primary ways you can and should represent your people to the organization: 1) gain exposure and recognition for the entire team and their accomplishments, and 2) support specific team members (your best people) who are destined for greatness. In the former, you are charged with making sure the team gets the credit they deserve for big wins. There are a lot of ways to do this, of course, but the key is to pick your spots and be humble and gracious when you choose to toot your own team’s horn. Various teams across the company do great work, and you’d do well to lead the cheers when it’s time to recognize those groups. But don’t forget to speak up on behalf of your team, too. Make sure your peers and especially your boss and your boss’s boss know about the group’s successes. Focus on results; no one wants to hear about how hard the team works—everyone works hard. Also, and I hope this is clear by now, when you praise the team, leave yourself out of the accolades. This isn’t about you, remember? People will know the impact you had; after all, you put the team in a position to succeed with a great vision, mission, and strategy, and you coached them to the finish line. There’s no need to make a big deal about it—that’s what you are supposed to do as the leader. I’ve seen this done well, and I’ve seen it done poorly throughout my career, and I’m sure you have, too. Don’t be like those bosses with the big egos who have to be in the spotlight and make it all about themselves. When you talk about your group and what they’ve achieved, make it all about the team.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781626560772

12 How vital are you to her mission?

Arneson, Steve Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub
Medium 9781605093451

48 Join the Volunteer Army

Arneson, Steve Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Donate Your Leadership Skills

THE FAMILIAR PHRASE “it takes a village” may be a bit overused, but its underlying message has relevance for your overall leadership contribution. OK, so you may not literally work in a village, but the organization you belong to certainly can be described as a community. After all, you do “live” with the same people, in the same environment and culture, to pursue a common purpose, yes? That’s basically what work is: a shared community of people who are aligned around a common objective. This notion of community is rather significant and becomes acutely obvious when you change jobs. What’s the most challenging thing about moving to a new organization? It’s not the new role and its associated tasks; typically, you know how to perform your basic duties. It’s the new culture you have to learn, the new people and unique norms; in short, your biggest hurdle is to learn your way around the new “village.”

This feeling of community is quite real in many organizations. If you’ve ever worked at a company that you truly cared about, then you’ve experienced the feeling of belonging to something bigger than just another place to work. Hopefully, the concept of community captures your curiosity, and as a leader, sparks some questions for you, such as: “How can I contribute to the community?” and “how can I leverage my leadership skills for the good of the company?”

See All Chapters
Medium 9781605093451

3 Spin Around in a Circle

Arneson, Steve Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Make 360° Feedback Work for You

HAVING CAPTURED YOUR LEADERSHIP lessons and analyzed your working relationships, you’re ready to take the next step: gathering feedback from others on how they’re experiencing your leadership. Do you know what others think of your leadership style? What are your strengths and opportunities as a leader? How do others really feel about working for you? Do you know the answers to these questions? You may think you do. But there’s only one way to find out for sure. There’s an old leadership adage that says “If you want to know how well you’re leading, turn around and see if anyone’s following you.” You’ll never get the full picture of your leadership if you’re always looking forward. From time to time, you need to turn around and make sure your people are still behind you. And while you’re at it, try to get a sense of their feelings about your leadership.

This is the idea behind the greatest leadership assessment tool ever invented: 360° feedback. The 360° process involves a formal collection of input from your direct reports, peers, and managers on your leadership style and behaviors. The feedback is generally gathered using a quantitative survey, and most 360° tools involve the solicitation of written comments, which are usually presented anonymously. The data and the written comments are compiled into a comprehensive, personalized report (generally by a professional consulting firm), which is then given to you and debriefed, typically by a human resources or leadership development professional. Whether it’s conducted formally or informally, the 360° process is a great way to confirm what you’re doing right, discover possible blind spots, and get suggestions for improving your leadership skills. It’s hard to think of a more efficient and effective assessment process.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781626560772

8 Where does he have influence?

Arneson, Steve Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

At first glance, it might seem that studying your boss’s reputation and level of influence would yield the same insights. Actually, they’re quite different. He might have a reputation as a difficult colleague to work with, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have impact across the organization. Reputation has to do with people’s perceptions; influence has to do with getting things done. Influence is gained by demonstrating a track record of success, having great ideas, and being able to execute. So, does your boss have influence? Does he have the power to get people to do what he wants? Is he a thought leader in the company?

Your homework assignment for this question involves two insights: 1) with whom does he have influence, and 2) what issues or decisions does he successfully impact? Let’s start with the senior managers he’s able to influence. Look at his track record and consider his success and failures. Is there a pattern? Does he have more success with male peers than female colleagues? Does he have more sway with new leaders or long-tenured executives? Does he have more influence with line leaders or staff leaders? Does he have impact in the field, or is it mostly in the home office? Take the relationship map that you created for question seven in Step 1 and highlight those leaders your boss tends to successfully influence. Where are they in the organization? What do they have in common? Is there any way to help him expand this list?

See All Chapters

See All Chapters