Tuesday, July 5, 2016

4-step action plan for leaders

In today’s post, I’m sharing tons of resources for the acronym LEAD. Our journey as leaders and aspiring leaders must include reading, watching, learning, and applying. I would love to hear your take-away in the comments!

L - Listen

Listening is a very important skill for leaders. Leaders who listen understand that others feel empowered when they feel heard. Listening grows out of having curiosity, which is a requirement for self-learning. In Dan Rockwell's post, Why Leaders Don’t Listen, Dan shares 13 reasons why leaders don’t listen, and he also shares 5 listening tips for leaders. 

The good news is that effective listening skills can be practiced until they become habit. If you’re a leader or aspiring leader, working on your listening skills is essential. 

Listening also reflects a leader’s willingness to collaborate. Leaders that are competitive are often poor listeners, as are the leaders who try to multitask while listening. 

Want to test your listening skills? Here's an online quiz with self-reflection questions and analysis of your score.

E - Engage

An article in the New York Daily News reports that less than one-third of employees report being "engaged" at work based on a Gallup study. Helping employees feel engaged at work is a responsibility of a leader.

Leaders must trust employees, expect the best from them, and empower employees by creating a culture of risk-taking, which all lead to individual growth and initiative. 

As shared in Randy Conley's post at Blanchard Leaderchat, there are four basic needs that people must have met or else they will start down the path of disengagement and ultimately quitting their jobs. 
1) The need for trust
2) The need for hope
3) The need to feel a sense of worth
4) The need to feel competent
When you think about your own leadership or the leadership of your organization, ask yourself, "How am I (or How is my leader) fulfilling these needs of my (the) employees?"

"The most engaged employees are those whose leaders have confidence in them."
- Glenn Llopis

A- Act

As leaders an aspiring leaders, we must walk the walk. We can't sit back and admire the problem, wait for perfect opportunities, or resist making decisions. Leadership requires action. It also requires leaders to know where they are going, and a leader's actions must align with his/her values and beliefs.  

In Linda Cliatt-Wayman's TEDWomen talk, "How to fix a broken school? Lead fearlessly, love hard," She shares one of her mantras: 

 "If you’re going to lead, lead."

Don't know if you're ready to lead? In a straight-forward article at Forbes.com, Molly Cain shares 5 signs you're not ready to lead.

D - Deliver

Finally, leaders must deliver results and deliver on their promises.

What are the promises on which leaders should deliver?
~Set the direction for the team/organization 
~Build on their own strengths and build the strengths of others 
~Create value for their employees 
~Identify and develop future leaders 
~Commit to servant leadership

Here's a powerful question to ask yourself about your own leadership:

“Am I a transformational leader who inspires individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” 
- Dr. Maynard Brusman

Whether you answer YES or NOT YET to Dr. Brusman's question, we all need to continue to grow and learn in order to be the best leaders we can be. Leadership is on a continuum... not a yes or no option. Stay committed to the journey!

A quick read for your professional learning library! 


  1. Jennifer --

    Great stuff here. Thanks for sharing.

    I love the whole idea of "Not Yet" with so much of education. I believe with the help of Rick Wormeli that Not Yet is what we need to do for grading, and I think there has to be more in education to look at how we are always striving, but we don't know if we will ever be there. Not Yet is Not Bad if we are always pushing to get better.

    Thanks; great post,

  2. I really appreciate your emphasis on leaders who listen for a couple of reasons. Leaders who are "lead learners" cannot acquire new material that enables reflection on their own practices unless they are good listeners. The culture naturally created by a "lead learner" empowers employees to take advantage of opportunities and feeds the reflection. Also, the curiosity you mention is often left off lists of quality leadership traits. It is absolutely a requirement for self-learning, and likely part of the reason leaders have the positions we have.

    Being an engaging leader cannot be "painted on" or simply put in place. It is a process that involves the two-way development of trust and the feeling you mention previously in the post that an employee feels empowered when they feel heard. Be patient with people as you grow this culture. It won't change overnight. I believe the "Act" and "Delivery" elements you speak of will grow and occur naturally if the first two are well done.

    Very insightful! Thanks.