Ask Root July/August 2014

What can you do if you think your managers and leadership team need a refresher in Leadership 101?

Leaders and managers are human beings just like the rest of the work force. Like anyone else, they need to be engaged in a way that is relevant to them. Approaching leaders with the notion that their leadership skills are lacking can start a defensive exchange instead of a productive conversation.

If leaders need a crash refresher course in basic leadership skills, we need to pause long enough to understand what is most important to them. With that perspective, we can use their priorities as the entry point to the conversation on how to best lead others. A leader’s success is largely measured by how well their strategy has been executed. As such, begin the conversation by talking about the strategy, not their leadership behaviors. Consider the following:

  1. Approach leaders with curiosity, asking or confirming their strategic objectives and associated goals.
  2. Help leaders create a connection between their strategy, people at the front line of the business, and execution.
  3. Provide leaders with a roadmap on how they can coach and be a model for others.
    • Leaders engage the entire organization in ongoing dialogue around strategy and include the “why, what, and how” of the strategy in each conversation.
    • Leaders demonstrate the same actions and behaviors that the front line needs to adopt to successfully execute the strategy.
    • Leaders coach individuals and teams to deliver the strategy from their specific roles.

Leaders may have titles, seniority, and positional authority, but that doesn’t mean they have ever had the benefit of having a great leadership role model. As a partner, you can help them be a great leader without ever having to tell them they aren’t acting like one. Engage them where they are and connect their actions and behaviors to their ultimate goals, and you will have a company of leaders in no time. Most importantly, remember that your job is to help build great leaders – and sometimes that means leading the leader.