Apr 28

5 Simple Leadership Lessons that Work for CEOs Too

Recently I’ve been consistently asked to share with new and emerging leaders some of the keys to becoming a leader and setting yourself up for success. What I love about these concepts is they build a solid foundation from which you can then launch your leadership.

It occurs to me, in all the conversations I’m also having with CEOs and their teams, that some of these foundations are still not in place.

To give everyone the opportunity to set themselves up for success, no matter their leadership level, I am going to share them again today. There is real value regardless of the level at which you are operating as a leader, whether as an emerging leader, an experienced leader, an executive leader, in having a solid foundation. It provides you a base upon which you can continue to build. A framework that will withstand pressure and challenge as your leadership develops and grows.

So if your leadership foundation has a few gaps in it or needs to be reinforced to ensure it provides you with a strong base, now is the time to focus on this. If you need to go back and revisit a few things, this is completely fine. In fact essential if you want to achieve everything you are capable of as a leader. And there is no better time to start than right now.

1. Get Organised
Choosing what to focus your time and effort on is critical as a leader. You need to choose between all of the different demands on your time. Tasks, people, meetings, emails, stakeholders, deliverables, critical thinking, planning, strategic visioning. All of it.

For most CEOs, it is unlikely that you can fit everything in. So be thoughtful about where you are going to focus your time and then proactively organise yourself around this. Make sure that you declutter your space and set yourself up to move through your activity smoothly.

 2. Prioritise Yourself
This includes everything from health and wellbeing to ensuring that you have thinking and creative time and allow yourself learning and development. You cannot pour from an empty cup, and it is the same for leaders. You need to continue to replenish yourself, to restore yourself, to have energy. This means you must prioritise yourself so you can be the best leader possible.

It is the classic, put your own oxygen mask on first. You can even make meetings with yourself each week to do the things that are important. Ensuring you always have the space available to deliver on these vital areas.

3. Spend Time With Your People
As a leader, you are only as good as the people around you. If you do not like spending time with your people, then maybe you should be thinking about a different role.

One of the worst things you can do as a leader is to cancel your one-on-one meetings with your direct reports. Sending the message that they are simply not important enough for you. The time you spend with your people provides great opportunities for you to mentor, to model leadership, and to coach them to elevate their leadership, creating a win for both of you.

4. Have The Essential Conversations
These are not only the difficult, challenging conversations. They are the important conversations. So yes, feedback is one element. Having performance conversations, having career development conversations are all important.

I think the one big, missed opportunity is having the conversations about expectations. Mutual expectations. What do you expect of me as your leader? And as your leader, what do I expect from you as one of my team members, one of my contributors?

If you can get the expectations clear in the beginning, then you both know what you are aiming at. If you do not have expectations conversations, then there is significant potential for disappointment on both sides. So set yourself and your team members up for success. Have the conversation.

5. Positioning For The Future
This is about ensuring you are not only focused on your current role, your current deliverables, and your current strategic plan. It is about ensuring you keep an eye on the horizon, not just for your team, not just for your organisational deliverables, also for you and your own career and development.

One of the easiest ways to position yourself for the future is to have a mentor. Someone who can give you the opportunity of different perspective, who can and will challenge you, who will ask you the important questions about today and tomorrow.

Five simple principles to solidify your leadership foundation. If you sense there is a gap or opportunity in any of these areas, then what can you do for yourself?

How can you optimise your own leadership foundation?

From there, how can you pass on these lessons to the people around you?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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