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January Spotlight: A Leader's Mindset – A Summary of The 6 Critical Practices

Thursday, January 09, 2020 3:24 PM | Angela Dawson

by Todd Davis 

Todd Davis is FranklinCovey’s Chief People Officer and the author and co-author, respectively, of The Wall Street Journal bestsellers Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work and Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team

Imagine you are at the airport waiting to board a plane. Your group number is finally called. You walk down the jetway and go into the plane (pass first class because you never get upgraded), back to row 46 in coach. You hoist your carryon luggage into the overhead bin, sit down in your seat, buckle your seatbelt, and lean back and think “Finally, I can relax for a few minutes.”

As the plane taxis out onto the runway, a voice comes over the speaker system and says “Thanks for flying with us today. I will be your pilot, and while I don’t have any actual pilot training, I do have an interest in flying and so we’ll just learn as we go. Welcome to GOOD LUCK AIRLINES!”

Hearing this, what is your first inclination? You’ve got to get off that plane…right? 

In a recent Harvard Business Review article it was noted that on average, people are put into their first management role around age 30 and yet don’t receive any type of management training until around age 42……if ever! So that’s basically 12 years of “Welcome to Good Luck Leadership.”

More often than not, those placed in a leadership role are put there because they were a superstar in their old role. And yet, the skills that made them so successful as an individual contributor are not what they need to be the great manager their team deserves.

In The Wall Street Journal’s bestselling book, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager – The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team, we have identified the fundamental yet vital skills that anyone in a management or leadership role needs to be using.

These six practices make all the difference between having at team who excels and is passionate about the work they are doing to those who just show up until something better comes along.

The six critical practices are:

1 – Develop a Leaders Mindset. Do you want to be a great leader, or do you want your team led by a great leader? Think about that as it is a subtle but critical difference. If I wake up in the morning thinking “I want to be a great leader”, I’m probably going to do a lot of really good things that day. But if I wake up in the morning thinking “I want my team led by a great leader”, then the focus is on them, the team! “What does Matt need to reach his full potential?” How can I help Madison really knock it out of the park with the project she’s working on?” Having the mindset of a leader is foundational and makes all the difference in how you approach everything in your management role.

2 – Hold Regular 1-on-1s. While this may seem obvious, I am amazed at how many people in management roles don’t meet on a regular basis with their team members. The most important thing a leader can do is create the circumstances for employee engagement. The more engaged an employee is, the more productive they are. An effective 1-on-1 is the optimal time for really understanding what’s important to the employee. What’s working for them and what’s not working? What would they like to do next? This regular meeting (weekly, bi-weekly, or even just once a month) can make all the difference of whether or not an employee feels truly valued.

3 – Set Up Your Team to Get Results. Do you know the top three goals of your organization? Does your team? Setting up your team to get results is all about alignment. Alignment that as a leader you can make happen. WHY is our organization focused on whatever it is we do? WHAT role does our team play in that purpose and goal? And HOW should our team go about accomplishing that? Leaders who help their teams understand these three questions, WHY, WHAT, and HOW, are well on their way to helping their team get stellar results.

4 – Create a Culture of Feedback. “Hey Joe, have you got a minute? I’ve got some feedback for you!” And Joe is thinking, “Great, what have I done now?” Feedback is meant to help nourish, sustain, and support people, not stress them out or tear them down. Creating a culture where giving AND RECEIVING reinforcing and/or redirecting feedback is a regular occurrence can truly help a team perform at their very best. And don’t forget the receiving part. Great leaders proactively seek out ways they, as the leader, can improve.

5 – Lead Your Team Through Change. We’ve all learned the one thing we can count on is change. And great leaders understand that leading your team through change doesn’t mean you shield them from it, you have all the answers, or you join them in their protests against it. Great leaders take the time to understand the reasons for the change so that they can get on board with it and then help their team navigate through the various stages of change, coaching and encouraging them along the way.

6 – Manage Your Time and Energy. It is predicted that within 20 years, 40% of jobs currently performed by human beings will be replaced by artificial intelligence. We owe it to ourselves and to those we lead to stay relevant, continually investing in ourselves so that we can add value and make significant contributions. Certainly, that starts with taking care of ourselves physically, eating right and getting enough exercise. Not burning out. And it also means we are continually learning and investing in our minds. What the leader values (and models) gets valued.

Just as we all deserve a trained, skilled, competent pilot to get us safely from point A to point B, everyone deserves a great manager to lead them in the important work they do every day. Implementing these six practices will do just that.  

For more information on how to become the leader that everyone on your team deserves, please download our guide: http://pages.franklincovey.com/crucial-insights-first-level-leaders-guide-pr.html

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