No one ever became a leader and thought “I want to be the worst leader I can be.” Instead, we aspire to become leaders who incite great influence. The larger our following, the more people counting on us, the more good leaders feel an urge to improve. We know that we lead by permission and if we don’t invest in ourselves to get better, we’ll let down those we influence.
“There it is again, that smile, that attitude. How do you do it even on a Monday morning?” This is what my director of first impressions (receptionist) asked me one morning. As she asked it, I noticed a smile on her face and her eyes lit up. At that moment, I knew that my contagious attitude had just brightened her day and improved her mood.
We joked a little bit before I walked through the doors and back to my office. I like to walk through the building rather than take the back entrance right next to my office. I realize that this is my first opportunity to set the tone for the day. I greet everyone with a smile and an upbeat attitude.
What my director of first impressions didn’t know was that this particular Monday, I was having a really bad day. I hadn’t slept well, I had to skip breakfast, and I hit a little traffic on my way to the office. Between my truck and the front door, however, I reached into my leadership toolbox and pulled out my leader’s attitude.
As a leader I am often a liar. Sometimes I don’t have a great attitude, but attitude is one of my leadership skills I pull from my toolbox every day. Below is a list of tools I use as a leader every day.
Feedback – Employees yearn for encouragement. If you asked all your employees if they receive TOO MUCH positive feedback each day, I bet you wouldn’t receive a single yes. Feedback on performance offers encouragement and intrinsic value.
Encouragement – In John C. Maxwell’s book the The 360 Degree Leader, he says the following about encouragement. “When we catch people doing something wrong, they become defensive. They make excuses. They evade. On the other hand, if we catch people doing something right, it gives them positive reinforcement. It helps them tap into their potential. It makes them want to do better. ”
Love of Learning – The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know much. Continuous learning is key to growth. If you are a seven as a leader, your people are all sixes or less. When you learn and improve and grow into an eight, your people don’t automatically become sevens. You must teach them to learn. Ask questions. Force them to research things rather than just come to you for answers. Soon they’ll grow with you and become sevens.
Optimism – This is the tool I use on my way into the office every day. Emotion is contagious. A bad attitude from a leader can kill the whole room, but an optimistic approach to problems provides a mind shift that centers thoughts on positivity. Michael Hyatt has a great post about this here.
Resilience – This is often the difference between success and failure. Think of someone on a diet. Only a person who is resilient and sticks to the diet long term will see results. Allan Mulally, the CEO of Ford Motor Company, attributes relentless implementation to his successful turn around of the company. He came up with the ONE FORD plan and then implemented it relentlessly every single day. His resilience led the company out of its downward spiral and into prosperity.
Every day as a leader is a day in which you must use these five tools to help your followers achieve their best. It is your job to create an environment in which the team can grow and flourish. The world rises and falls on leadership. These tools will ensure that the world doesn’t fall on your watch.