I have the wonderful opportunity in my work to be always meeting leaders who are trying to be better… better for their teams, their organizations, the world. They are working on being more inspiring, enabling and encouraging. They want to improve so that they can accomplish great things with their teams, and in their lives.
Through our Leadership Challenge work, they have figured out what they need to do differently as leaders. That was the easy part. Now their struggle is to hold themselves consistently to the new leadership behaviours they wish to use. Here is what I tell them:
1. Be clear about which specific behaviours you want to change. If you want to start acknowledging the good things your people are doing then start with that and keep working on that specific action. Don’t just write, “Be more positive” on your agenda as you will not know how to do this. Try writing, “Recognize two people today for moving us forward on our project.”
2. Ask for feedback about how you are doing. Let your trusted people know what changes you are trying to make and ask them to let you know how you are doing. They will both offer encouragement by letting you know when you are doing well and immediate feedback when you slip up.
3. You will slip up. Know this and be authentic about it. Apologize if you need to and acknowledge to yourself that you are still learning. We all are. This level of honesty with yourself and others will help you to keep on track.
This leadership learning is not easy. Many people try and fail, but that failure just needs to be part of your journey. You need to be clear about your specific plans for improvement and then be willing to falter and work though the missteps as you work to become an authentic and extraordinary leader.