Hello! I’m Shelly Langona, VP and GM, coming to you from the Framery O Phone Booth with a new blog series about workplace leadership. For my first post, I’m sharing my top five tips for new leaders. If you have other ideas on what makes a great leader, tell us on Twitter or Facebook!
I firmly believe that few things are more important than clarity and transparency in professional communication. Setting this precedent for an organization is the responsibility of the leadership team and goes a long way in establishing expectations and driving results. Clear communication is also critical in removing uncertainty from projects and tasks. I find that whenever we have to redo work, it was due to instructional uncertainty. As leaders, we must take stock of our own communication styles to ensure clarity and set our teams up for success.
While many leaders occasionally enjoy a good filet, leadership is far more than the “wine and dine” mentality of the Mad Men era. Today’s leader is expected to get in the day-to-day weeds of their organization just as much as they drive big picture strategy. The best leaders interact with their employees and their tasks to fully understand and appreciate the work they perform on a daily basis. For example, Google’s Sergey Bren and Larry Page worked together in the same 10’ x 10’ square space well beyond their company meeting the billion-dollar market cap. They weren’t some mythological figures in an inaccessible c-suite office – they interacted with their team daily and valued accessibility.
I have had the privilege of working with many different people, departments and companies throughout my career, and I can tell you that employees are often most disgruntled with leaders who are unable to admit when they’ve made a mistake. There is power in humility and it takes a strong leader to tell her team, “This is on me. I’m sorry I messed this up. I may need some help to fix it.” Unfortunately, this takes a lot of guts and often gets rejected for the much easier option of passing the blame to someone else. As a leader, you are much more real, much more approachable, much more human when you level with your team and admit when you’ve slipped. In this case, the truth really can set you free.
I first learned this concept in Stephen Covey’s inspirational book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, and it encourages people to visualize the result they want before they begin any project. It also includes making sure the underlying “Why” is properly conveyed throughout your team. Whenever a project is stalled and I’m trying to find the root of the issue, one key giveaway that tells me I’ve forgotten this principle is when my team doesn’t understand the underlying goals – the Why behind what they do. To get back on track, ask questions like, “What result do we want from this project?” or “If we were to accomplish everything we want to accomplish in this project, what would it look like?”
Emotions are crucial for success in business. Many people operate under the assumption that feelings are servants to facts in the professional world, but in reality, it takes both to succeed. No matter what business you’re in, you’re in the people business and dealing with human nature. As a leader, if you ignore your team’s feelings, you will accomplish less than what is possible.
With that, we need to dispel the idea that acknowledging emotions means coddling your employees or changing directions at every whim. Your team members come from different backgrounds, have different perspectives and beliefs and bring different emotions to the table. Embrace the feelings and the facts and you’ll end up with some solid results.