5 Steps to Becoming a More Effective Leader

If you feel like you might take a hike if you hear the phrase ‘effective leader’ one more time, then join the club. It remains a hot topic. Part of the problem, I propose, is that it’s ill-defined; it’s written and talked about ad nauseam, but with little substance.

Let’s change that. 

Effective (ef●fec●tive)
adjective
1. Successful in producing a desired or intended result.

In other words, your goal is to be a leader who is successful in producing a desired or intended result. That’s it. So, why is it necessary to discuss it so much and to have so many resources dedicated to instructing leaders on how to become more effective? Simple: producing results on your own is one thing; achieving those same results through others is quite another.

The infamous Mr. Jack Welch said it best: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” To be effective as a leader, you are charged with growing your team in a way that equips them with what they need to be successful. Following are 5 steps that will help:

  1. Set clear expectations. What are the results you want to achieve? This isn’t the how; it’s the what. Communicate this clearly, consistently, and often.

  2. Provide guidelines. Identify parameters and possible pitfalls. Are there mistakes you have made that you can share? Are there resources that are off limits because of one reason or another? Share these with your team so time and energy aren’t wasted going down a “failure” path.

  3. Identify resources. From the outset, it’s a great idea to help your team with the identification of resources so they know where to go when they need human, technical, financial or organizational assistance. Subject Matter Experts, or SMEs, are often chosen and publicly identified as such, so company employees know exactly where to go in each department to find answers, seek advice, and/or get approvals.

  4. Emphasize accountability. If you’ve set expectations and provided guidelines, you’ve laid the foundation. But it doesn’t end there. Accountability is key. As American self-help author, Henry Cloud, once said, “If you are building a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm, then the group will address poor performance and attitudes.” Team members should be held accountable with management and team members alike.

  5. Reward. Depending upon the organization and its culture, rewards look very different. They aren’t always monetary, and aren’t even always tangible. Simple recognition for helping the company reach its desired result is all many employees want to receive.

These steps are the crux of Stewardship Delegation, as it is called by Stephen Covey, in his classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. And, it is in practicing stewardship delegation that we become more effective leaders—capable of optimizing the performance not only of our staff, but our own positions as well. And, that positions us perfectly for achieving higher returns.