A No-Excuses Leadership Learning Strategy

Leading effectively is a complex mix of skills and behaviors that don’t all come naturally and can’t be mastered quickly (if ever). To put it simply, to be a great leader, you must be a continual learner.

That is easy to say. It is easy to believe. But how do you do it?


Source: A No-Excuses Leadership Learning Strategy

Innovation and your rear view mirror

Don’t we all aspire to be innovators and get our companies to develop the next Tesla or Iphone. The truth is that we have to work quite hard to make innovation happen. See our earlier article about that HERE.

One of the behaviors I have seen frequently is that the new leader storms into the group, throws out all that is working or broken now and starts on a path to radical change of all processes and products. One of the problems with this approach is that you may make the same mistakes all over again as you have done in the past. You often hear that you need to know where you are coming from to be able to move where you want to go. Similarly a good driver, can only be safe and successful when they check the rear view mirror regularly.

Being held back by the past may be frustrating but learning from the past may speed up the change you are looking for.

The balance between your forward looking innovation and the look in the rear view mirror maybe found by ensuring you know what you are talking about, you understand why the processes and products are in place the way they are. If you don’t know and your team doesn’t know, it is probably urgent time for review.

Once you have made sure you know where you are coming from, you have a basis to spark the  creativity in the team and, after thorough review, test it and implement it. Here is the difference between creativity and innovation; creativity is developing something new, innovation is implementing something new. You can have creativity without ever getting to innovation, you cannot have innovation when there is no creativity.

Innovation does not have to be a brand new product, it can be a new process or a new way of handling customer service. With the innovation, the implementation of that great creative idea, the view in the rear view mirror is also still relevant and necessary.

You want to be a careful driver in your car, so do the same when working on creative change that will lead to innovation and prevent crashes. Use the rear view mirror but not too much or you’ll loose your way and may get to an unexpected stop.

The Transparent Manager

Are you a transparent manager? Like the invisible man, who cannot be seen but who’s impact always saves the day, or more like the window, you know it is there but you can’t really see it or notice it although it protects you from the elements.

Being transparent can be a good thing. Transparency in how you run your department or company makes life for those around you predictable and people tend to like predictable environments as it takes away worries that distract them from reaching their goals.

Providing Goal Clarity is an important part of being a transparent manager. If people understand the Goals of the company and how it trickles down to their spot in the organization they will know what is expected of them, can plan their actions and be able to give the company their best efforts and results.

When you have ensured that absolute goal clarity exists for your employees, it will be easier to take the hard decisions that are sometimes necessary in a company and gain acceptance by the workforce. Because you are transparent in your goals and your process, the way you want to the work to be organized and the financial realities of the company’s business, your staff will understand and appreciate, although maybe not like, the decisions that are made.

Being transparent is not to be confused with not being a factor in the process. Your transparency needs to help the process and provide predictability for the staff, not be an empty black hole that provides no guidance and has no impact.

So how can you become more transparent? A great start is to analyze all the decisions you are involved in and exactly what your role is. How can you provide such guidance and Goal Clarity to your staff that they can understand the decision that will need to be taken and do you really need to be involved in it? Create learning opportunities out of difficult situations so that your staff will be able to work through it independently the next time. Look at your communication and see where you can provide more meaningful insights. Ask for feedback in a non threatening way, use available tools for it, and act upon the outcomes to continuously improve your style.