Two Things Effective Leaders Learn to Do Well

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Leadership is vital.

Nothing like a broad opening statement, huh?

In any organization, any business, any group of people, the effectiveness of accomplishing whatever it is you seek to do, rises and falls on the effectiveness of those leading the charge. Principled, courageous leadership yields a principled, courageous organization.  Tepid, undefined leadership yields frustrated, unmotivated participants, with an end result of little substantial mission being accomplished.

In 20 years of vocational leadership, much trial and error, and constant observation, it’s been my experience that effective leaders learn to do two things (among many) very well, things whose implementation sets their organization apart from others.

1.  Effective leaders understand the importance of both presentation and reception in communication, and they work really hard to make things as clear as possible.

Think back to the childhood game, “Operator,” and you’ll quickly realize that what’s communicated is not what’s always received.  Effective leaders understand it doesn’t matter how well information is communicated if that information, and especially its intended result, is lost in translation somewhere between the mouth and the mind.

So effective leaders communicate, and communicate often.  They value clarity, a lot.  Much of their preparation is crafting a clear message that’ll be extremely hard to miss.  And the payoff from such attention to communication detail? Trust from those following.  As leadership consultant and coach Mitch Rose succinctly states, “In every single situation it’s employed, clear communication will breed trust. Lack of communication is the mother of suspicion.”

Leaders – spend time and energy learning how to clearly communicate and improving your comfort level of doing so.  Those you’re leading deserve this effort.  And want it.

Whatever the message, learn how to say it clearly.  Then say it clearly .  Then say it clearly again.

2.  Effective leaders learn how to define and communicate a “win.”  

I lived in St. Louis, Missouri for 15 years.  Whenever an out-of-towner asked me to tell them a little about St. Louis, the explanation always began the same way.  “Well, there’s this giant Arch… .”  See, no matter where you’re coming from, when you get close to downtown St. Louis, it’s hard to miss a silver 630-foot Arch.

Leadership involves explaining to your followers the ultimate destination, and then explaining to them in advance what the destination looks like.  Setting a goal is half the job. Those on the journey with you need to know when the goal has been achieved.

Followers don’t instinctively know what “mission accomplished” includes, so effective leaders work hard at specifically quantifying what success looks like.  And the parameters of what constitutes a “win” are then communicated.  Over and over and over.

And here’s the cool thing.  Planned and repeated goals, when expressed with effective communication, produce enthusiastic buy-in, leading to expected results and increased trust.

It’s also worth noting that, as a result, effective organizations know how to celebrate. Why?  A goal has been reached. It’s another step forward.  And everybody knows it.

That’s good leadership.

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