Great leaders have mastered goal setting as well as finding ways to unlock personal growth. When a leader is focused on developing themselves and others, it creates an environment where other people can follow the leader’s example and thrive. A healthy culture sets an expectation for progress, not perfection, which helps a team function from a place of well-being instead of fear.
Whether you lead employees, students or athletes, creating a culture of empowerment instead of micromanagement will significantly influence success and overall satisfaction. The people you are leading won’t respect you as much if you don’t practice what you preach.
If you reiterate the importance of personal growth and achievable goals, then you need to establish these yourself first. Your team will flourish under this style of leadership.
Your Personal Leadership Development Plan
A few key factors that contribute to a healthy culture are values, vision, aligned behaviors, humility, and established community. A leader should use these to develop a team culture. Let’s explore what these key factors look like.
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint. – Proverbs 29:18
Vision casting is a critical component to leading well. The vision includes a future-focused picture of what your organization wants to accomplish or what it wants to become. When the vision isn’t shared clearly, people go astray and become confused. When a solid foundation is lacking, people can easily divert from the vision.
If values are nonexistent this creates a toxic workplace. Values are crucial for alignment among the team. They express the reason why the organization does the things it does. When values are absent, or not enforced, dysfunctional teams start to form.
Those dysfunctional teams end up ruining productivity and influence the culture negatively. If one of your core values is respect, but you find a member of your organization is constantly talking negatively about a coworker this will cause conflict.
An organization can easily become poisoned by weak values. Craft values that are positive pillars in your organization. Your team should understand the values and hold firm to them when conducting their work.
A leader’s talk must match his walk. If a leader shares the vision and values with his team but does not personally model these in everyday affairs, this can cripple the organization. It’s the leader’s responsibility to align his behaviors with the vision and values. If you have a powerful vision and excellent values, but don’t actively walk them out your company suffers. What is exemplified by leadership will manifest in the culture.
Instead of scattered energy, aligned behaviors creates focused energy and greater impact. When people see a leader living out the organization’s convictions, they are more motivated to imitate the leader and work toward achieving the vision.
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. – Matthew 23:12
A servant leader is paramount to positive organizational health. When a leader possesses humility, he gives other people a chance to shine and grow into their gifts and talents. A prideful leader often instills fear in the people he leads and always wants what’s in his best interest. People tend to shrink and shrivel under prideful leadership and flourish under humble leadership.
Humbles leaders aren’t threatened by seeing other people rise up and take ownership. They empower and equip others to reach their full potential for the benefit of both the organization and the individual.
Does your organization have an inviting, inclusive community or is it full of cliques that exclude certain people? People all want to belong and connect with others in a meaningful way. People are wired to need authentic relationships. An effective leader encourages constructive communication and genuine collaboration among teams.
When a team takes initiative to create a welcoming environment where people can be known through vulnerability, then this type of community becomes contagious. All five of the factors mentioned forms a team of trailblazers willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the task at hand.
Five Practices of an Exemplary Leader
In the book, The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, Kouzes and Posner share five practices that can be adopted in order to become an exemplary leader. The five practices include modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart.
1. Modeling the Way
Chances are you have a role model. This person you most likely look up to because they live out their values. When you model the way as a leader, you are clear about your personal values and your actions match your values. There isn’t a shred of hypocrisy in your character. This step always requires you to do some introspection in order to become an effective leader.
You must know your personal beliefs if you want them to guide your life. When you discover your genuine voice and principles, this will help give a voice to your team. People are diverse and have a variety of beliefs and values that might be different from your own.
By determining your beliefs and values, you can then discover shared values between you and your team. You must recognize and acknowledge different backgrounds and beliefs of your team if you want to lead them well.
Most importantly, you must practice what you profess. If your character is consistent this creates credibility. When credibility is present, trust is able to grow. Can your team trust your word? Are you the same person behind closed doors as you are in public view?
2. Inspiring a Shared Vision
When you inspire a shared vision, you are rallying your team around that vision to move forward cohesively. You all will be required to accomplish different tasks for the shared vision but will be moving in the same direction.
This shared vision should be others-focused and not leader-focused by bringing into consideration the capabilities and aspirations of the team. People are waiting to buy into a vision that’s inspirational and motivational.
Life is unpredictable and a leader must work to cast a solid foundation that people can grasp firmly. The vision should incorporate plans on how the team can work together using individual strengths to make a greater impact.
Sharing this vision is pivotal to inspire a team to stay focused on a common goal. If excitement is generated by the vision or goal, people become enthralled with seeing the work accomplished and seeking personal satisfaction.
Take the time to paint a picture of how the goal will benefit each individual team member. Show them ways they can take ownership of achieving the goal. Use your encouragement to build momentum and create a movement toward the future.
3. Challenging the Process
Complaceny and comfort is every leader’s worst enemy. When a leader challenges the process, he is seeking ways to improve himself or the vision. Leaders must take calculated risks that challenge the status quo. Every effective leader is someone who didn’t sit back and let life happen to him but looked for opportunities to blaze new trails or lay a fresh foundation.
Leaders encourage their team to push past their perceived limits and believe that growth is a neverending process. Some growth can only happen by stepping outside conventional wisdom and taking risks. You are responsbile for creating the change you want to see. Take initiative and sacrifice to make things happen.
A leader listens to feedback from his team, not matter their title or position. He is constantly looking for ways to improve processes that will benefit the team and the organization as a whole. Good communication is critical for a healthy environment where shared ideas are celebrated.
Don’t be so focused on the end goal, that you forget to celebrate the small wins along the way. Every step takes your team one step closer to the larger vision. Appreciate the value and contributions your team makes will shape the culture and their view of you as a leader. Even when mistakes happen, you can set the tone by reminding the team to fail fast and fail forward. It’s important to keep moving and not lose momentum on the journey.
4. Empowering Others to Act
An organization isn’t built with one man or woman. It’s a collective effort that requires the time and talents of multiple people. If you are in a traditional leadership role, recognize that your team is looking to you for validation and empowerment. Give them the green light to act on the vision. Reward them for their contributions in creating a collaborative environment.
A leader is tasked with building trustworthy relationships. If trust has eroded in an organization, the culture will suffer. You can repair trust by being considerate of team members’ needs and understanding relationships influence the ability to work and achieve successful results.
Creating a supportive and trustworthy culture is the key to making meaninful things happen. The team members should have mutual respect for each other that is also modeled for them by their leader.
A leader that can encourage others, make them feel valued, and boost confidence in their skills creates a place where people can truly thrive and make a difference. People become even more passionate about the vision and get to see that the impact they are making does not go unnoticed.
5. Encouraging the Heart
There are both life and death in the tongue. A leader can choose either to speak life into the team or use his words to deflate the team. Recognize that each member of your team has emotions, experiences and a life outside of the organization.
Rejoice during times of celebration and mourn during times of sorrow. Always choose people over profit. Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on if possible. Remind your team that they can push their limits and overcome any obstacles set in their path.
Take the time to notice when a team member has gone above and beyond the call of duty and recognize that person through notes, public praise or other forms of gratitude. Make sure you spend a day in their shoes. Are you a leader that rolls up his sleeves and can be counted on to be in the trenches too?
Leaders gain more respect this way. Showing a sense of pride in everything your team has accomplished demonstrates your belief in the team. Most importantly, an effective leader leads out of love for his people, the work they do, and the desired impact.
Life moves at the speed of relationships. Healthy relationships produce positive results in an organization. When the discussed practices are applied by a leader, an empowered community is created.
If you are a leader or considering a leadership position, start by developing yourself and your beliefs and then begin sharing those with your team. Becoming an effective leader is the best way to build a passionate and productive team.
“Getting it Done,” courtesy of Cathryn Lavery, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Helping Hand”, Courtesy of Dane Deaner, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pray,” courtesy of Patrick Fore, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Communication”, Courtesy of Rawpixel, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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