It’s that time of year when many of us pause, look back, and reflect on the past twelve months. One of the most powerful ways you can improve the performance of your company is by evaluating the quality of your leadership. What can you do for this coming year? Here’s some advice for leaders from bestselling author and management guru Ken Blanchard.
How can a leader reinvent himself or herself?
A. I think a leader reinvents himself or herself by constantly wanting to learn. When you stop learning, you might as well lie down because you’re dead. I think every leader ought to set a personal goal each year about what will they be able to put on their resume next year that they didn’t have last year. It might be learning a new language. It could be learning a new computer program. Constantly put yourself in a learning mode.
What does it take to be a good leader?
A. The biggest thing it takes to be a good leader is humility. People with humility don’t think less of themselves—they just think about themselves less. I think Rick Warren said it well in his book, The Purpose Driven Life. The first sentence of that book is a whole leadership training program. He said, “It’s not about you.” We can accomplish that if we can get leaders to realize that they are there for the mission, for their clients, for their people, and not for themselves.
Can a leader also be a good coach?
A. Yes, coaching is a definite part of leadership. There are two parts of leadership. One is the visionary direction part of leadership which is, “Where are we going?” and “What are we trying to accomplish?” That has to be the responsibility of the traditional hierarchy. It doesn’t mean that you don’t involve other people, but people look to the president, department chairman, and other traditional leaders to make sure that everybody knows where they are going.
The second part of leadership is implementation, which is “How do we live according to the vision, direction, and values that we have established?” With that you have to turn the traditional hierarchy upside down. So now the leaders who played a major role in setting the vision are at the bottom cheerleading, supporting, and coaching.
This is where the coaching process comes in because in developing your people there are three parts: Performance Planning where you are setting the goals and objectives; Day-to-Day Coaching when you are helping people win and accomplish their goals; and then there is Performance Evaluation.
In most companies, the majority of time is spent on performance evaluation with managers focused on judging people’s behavior. Some companies do a pretty good job of goal setting but then they file the goals away until somebody says it is performance review time and then they run around looking for the goals. The thing that is least done is the day-to-day coaching, so coaching is a very important part of leadership.
What can you do from a personal leadership perspective to help your people and your organization perform at a higher level in 2011?
Successful leaders recognize that profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for your people. What can you do to create that type of environment within your organization? The New Year is a great time to start!
PS: Ken Blanchard will be conducting a free webinar with Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines, on January 26. It’s based on their new book, Lead with LUV. To learn more, or to register, visit Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success at the Blanchard website.