Leadership: every day in every way
by Wally Bock
John and I were having lunch midway through his shift. It was the graveyard shift and John was a police sergeant, one of the best.
"I haven't talked to Spalding yet tonight," he said as he scanned down a list of the people who worked for him. "We'll head that way next. And I've got to talk to Smith about that complaint, so we'll meet her for coffee later."
Books about leadership make it seem like what leaders do is mostly strategy and mostly cosmic. Reality is different.
For most leaders, most of the time, leadership is a round of daily actions that help the team accomplish the mission while they help team members do better and grow. In other words, the results of your leadership spring mostly from what you do every day as part of the natural rhythm of work.
Every day you need to make your expectations clear. Master the art of giving clear directions. Deliver the same core messages over and over.
Every day you need to check for understanding. Don't let people leave your presence without checking to make sure that they understand what you want.
Every day you need to make sure to touch base with your people. Make sure they're turning understanding into performance. Great supervisors touch base a lot.
Every day you need to use every one of those contacts as an opportunity to improve team performance and morale. They're real "Moments of Truth." Here's what to do in those moments.
Coach the team members who need it. Help them succeed, along with the team.
Encourage good behavior and honest effort to do better. Praise improvement and effort.
Correct what needs correcting. Small course corrections are best. Think of problems as dinosaurs that are much easier to kill when they're small.
Counsel those that need it. For those who can't or won't change, lay out the consequences if things don't improve. Then make sure you deliver the consequences. It's your job.
Every day you need to do the hard work of weeding out the unfit and the unwilling. Making sure you meet all the requirements for a fair and final firing is hard work, but it has a big impact on productivity and morale. Slackers and malcontents are cancers that kill your team.
Don't succumb to magical thinking about management. It's what you do every day, not magic traits that will improve your team's productivity and morale.
Wally Bock may be contacted at http://www.threestarleadership.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Wally Bock helps organizations improve productivity and morale by selecting and developing great leaders at all levels. He coaches individual managers, and is a popular speaker at meetings and conferences in the US and elsewhere. This article first appeared in the Three Star Leadership Blog ( http://blog.threestarleadership.com/ ). Check out Wally's Working Supervisor's Support Kit ( http://www.threestarleadership.com/supervisorsupportkit/ ).