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How To Become A Leader Worth Following

This article was based on episode 191 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Get the Influential Leadership Blueprint, a simple, step-by-step workbook that allows you to create clear next steps for your journey when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join.


Trying to be an effective leader can feel daunting. We have to contend with all the goals we’re responsible for, all the needs of our team, and also all the self doubt that arises for even the most seasoned managers. That’s why I loved sitting down with Lisa Marie Platske to hear her distill her Leadership Blueprint into three core, guiding principles. Lisa Marie has coached over 100,000 leaders around the globe. She was recognized as one of the top 100 women making a difference in the world by The International Alliance For Women. Here, Lisa Marie shares with me how to use courage, focus, and self-knowledge to lead with confidence.


COURAGE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EXPERTISE

Make The Tough Decision

Sometimes we’re called upon to lead when we’re not the one with the most knowledge or experience in the group. That can feel beyond intimidating. But courageous leadership doesn’t mean we need to know the most. It means that we find the strength to be vulnerable and make tough decisions. To facilitate courageous leadership, identify where you want to go. Then take the difficult actions to actually make that leap and try things others have never tried.

Experience Comes From Life

Keep in mind that experience can also come from many facets of our lives beyond work. It can come from making a difficult decision in your family or engaging as a volunteer with your church. Build up your sense of competence by remembering all the ways in your life that you have gained knowledge and expertise in perhaps untraditional ways.


FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS MOST

What Would Make The Biggest Impact?

Life gets hectic. We all have so much on our plates. We need to be able to prioritize what to focus on that will make the greatest impact. To do that, we need to be aware of the goals and values of the organization and/or of our boss. From that, you can then figure out what tasks you should do to make the greatest impact. It’s better to take small, focused actions every day that move the important goals forward than to do a hundred tasks spread across the board, that don’t move the need on any goal.

Stop And Reassess

Lisa Marie uses the SNAP acronym daily to assess if she’s focusing on the right thing. SNAP stands for

  1. Stop: Take a moment before rushing into the next activity.

  2. Notice: Check in with yourself and what’s unfolded so far in the day.

  3. Ask: Reflect on whether your priorities and daily plan are still the right ones right now.

  4. Pause / Pray / Pivot: If needed, take a breath, a break, or a moment to connect. And, update your priorities or plan accordingly.

Give yourself moments during the day to reflect on if you’re doing what is most needed, or if you just got caught up in the hailstorm of daily life. Setting a timer at random intervals can also be an easy way of getting you in the habit of SNAPing.

Help Your Team Focus

Have conversations with your team about their priorities to help them plan their own days. Ask about their biorhythms to better understand the times of day when they need to work alone versus when it is best to collaborate with the team.

By prioritizing, we give ourselves permission to let some things go. We build in wiggle room so that we can still function when unexpected issues arise, and we’re not overflowing with tasks. We can become fully present in the task at hand, rather than feeling constantly frantic. This is true for us as managers and for our direct reports.


DON’T DO WHAT YOU’RE TAUGHT

What Do You Really Want?

Our head is filled with all these unhelpful, unconscious beliefs of what we “should” be doing. Maybe you’ve been taught that if you work hard, you’ll get what you want. But then you follow that advice religiously and end up feeling burned out. Instead of following generic, age old advice, look at what’s not working in your work life and tread a new path. Don’t just keep doing what you’re doing and hoping something different will happen.

Think about who you are, what you want, and why it matters. Consider your gifts, abilities, and experiences. Believe that you don’t have to compromise the things that you need or value to have the life you want. And then stick to carving your own path, even if others say it will never work.

One approach Lisa Marie recommends is to establish your non-negotiables. These are the boundaries of what you won’t do. Maybe it’s not traveling for work or working past 7pm. Maybe it’s saying no to a “great opportunity” that just doesn’t match with your career aspirations. Whatever it is, you don’t need to do it just because other people think you should.

What Do Your Teammates Want?

You can empower your team members to make their own decisions about what matters. Give them space to share what roles, responsibilities and tasks they want and don’t. Keep in mind that we all have different seasons in which we have more and less energy. At another time, they (and you) might want to take on more or go in a different direction. Keep the conversation open by revisiting their desires and aspirations each year.

I am a firm believer that how we work is as important as what we accomplish. In order to be the type of leader who others want to follow, we need to have courageous leadership. Those with the most expertise or knowledge aren’t necessarily the best leaders. Instead, effective leadership is about knowing what you don’t know and being willing to admit it, while making the tough calls. Figure out where you want to go, and then go there. Simplify your life and clarify your team’s priorities so that you, and they, can focus on the most important tasks that matter most. And stop listening to what everyone says you “should do”. Figure out what you and your team need, what roles fit you best, and then go for it. These core leadership skills will get your team laser focused and prepared to crush whatever tasks await you.

KEEP UP WITH LISA MARIE


Get the Influential Leadership Blueprint, a simple, step-by-step workbook that allows you to create clear next steps for your journey when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.


This article was based on episode 191 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.

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