When someone is in a leadership role, there is plenty of scrutiny on everything they do. They are also subjected to having most aspects of what they are involved with measured. Either overtly, or from a judgement and opinion level. This is something that new or even experienced leaders will either find to be helpful in evaluating their performance, or similar to a heavy weight they must learn to tolerate carrying while performing at a peak level.
One of the most glaring mistakes I see new leaders make is assuming they have to know everything about their role. In other words, that if they ask others for advice, it might disclose they don’t know everything. This seems absurd when you think about it from this perspective. Why? Because it would be unrealistic for anyone, let alone a leader to know everything related to their role. Even experienced leaders will not have mastered everything about their role, and they don’t need to. However, they will need to be humble enough to admit this. Doing so early on in their leadership role will serve them well.
Maybe it’s me, but I find it extraordinarily frustrating when I interact with leaders who truly need support yet will initially keep you or others at an arm’s length and not allow you to help them. Of course, they need the help, they know they do, but they seem to be unable to allow their guard to come down enough to gain value from others experience and advice. Some of this is attributed to their pride or perhaps their ego, and neither will serve a leader well from a long-term success perspective.
Considering how pride and ego can have a detrimental impact on a leader who refuses to realize this, leads me to think about what are the contributing factors to this scenario? Let’s start with how comfortable a leader is with communication. If they do not find this to be one of their strong suits, have they, or will they seek support to improve this ability? Communication comes in a variety of forms, so tackling one at a time is more reasonable. A leader also might find that they can master one type of communication more easily, and doing this will help them to gain traction in the other areas they can then begin to work on becoming better at too.
If a leader is struggling with their ability to communicate well with others, I have seen a pattern of this also impacting their responsiveness levels. For context, I’m referring to how much of a sense of urgency a leader has with handling and responding to via their ideal communication style. When a leader is not yet comfortable with communicating with others they lead or need to engage with a sense of urgency, their responsiveness level generally isn’t as strong or as quick as it could or should be. Given the fact that there are many leadership situations which require a rapid response, if a leader isn’t capable of responding at the required response rate, this will then critically impact the desired success outcome of the scenario they are involved with.
Responsiveness levels for leaders can vary, but one of the negative contributing factors is whether they have even a slight tendency to procrastinate. Perhaps this is because they either feel like they need to take extra time to think things through thoroughly, or that they don’t or haven’t learned how to respond to the urgency and pressure, and then resort to stalling their actions. This responsive style will not serve a leader well, but only they can decide to alter and commit to not falling prey to this potentially career limiting reality.
Let’s assume you are a leader or sports coach who might recognize the need to improve your communication, responsiveness and ultimately your success level. Here are some suggestions for you to consider how to move in the direction of doing so.
- What would you say is your strongest area of communication (e.g., verbal, written, listening, non-verbal, visual)?
- Have you proactively invested in making your top communication area stronger?
- Are you willing to invest in yourself to enhance your leadership communication ability?
- What is your timeframe to improve your communication ability, and can you see how doing so will have a positive impact?
- How would you rate your responsiveness level from a communication perspective? For example, do you routinely get right back to people who are looking for a response, generally delay your response, or perhaps ignore and not respond at all to some people? Perhaps some variation of these? Hint. The most successful leaders and sports coaches are highly responsive, even if it involves the most trivial topic. In this case, they may delegate someone else to respond for them, and that is perfectly acceptable.
- If you lean towards not being as responsive as you know you could be, ask yourself what is contributing to this behavior and causing your responsive level to be lower than it should be? Stubbornness, lack of having a sense of urgency, self-sabotaging or being complacent are some potential reasons why.
- Be honest. Is your success level where it should or could be? Write down what may be contributing to your current success level, and make sure that the majority of items on your list are what you can do to impact this. It’s tempting to point finger at others, but ultimately you are responsible for the success you and your team will experience.
- Ask yourself why you want to ultimately improve your leadership success level. You might be surprised at your responses, and they will also provide you with additional insight into areas you can focus more attention on to improve your situation.
Based on my experience, I will say that a leaders communication ability and responsiveness level is directly linked to the success they and their team’s will have. If either of these two areas are not at an optimal operating level, or considered as contributing success factors, I would recommend they are evaluated and adjusted accordingly.
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