4 Practices of Thriving Leaders
January 5, 2023
4 minute read – Thriving leaders embrace the fact that they are in the people business, first and foremost.
They realize and appreciate that – regardless of the external forces they face, how advanced technology becomes, and whether they are poised for rapid growth or preparing for recession – they still need to prioritize accelerating the talent development in their organizations. Here are 4 practices of thriving leaders:
1. They actually have a talent strategy. Think of it as a Strategic People Plan, that gets rigorous intention and attention from the C-Suite. This is not the same thing as the traditional training programs often seen in organizations. It takes an intermediate and long-term view of the characteristics and knowledge that will be needed in a role. This view is creative and reimagines what could be, instead of “Frankensteining” traditional roles and responsibilities.
2. They require people to think. For example, they are very selective when they tell a direct report exactly what to do and how to do it. Rather, they create the habit of having their team members provide options for consideration along with their recommendation.
Ideally, team members provide three disparate options with their rationale, not simply iterations of one option. This approach is vital for high-impact decisions.
The practice of having team members think through various options, and ultimately making a recommendation, helps leaders free up their time to think more strategically. It also provides a wealth of information with respect to how their team members are thinking, enabling leaders to hone in on opportunities to accelerate growth by closing potential gaps.
3. They learn to trust using a common language. Working diligently to help their team be clearer on decision-making responsibility and authority helps leaders gain trust over time and be more confident in what they can let go.
This opens up their brain power and energy for them to be able to think at a higher level, so they can identify more opportunities to expand customer value and be more proactive at facing external forces.
For example, a common language that works well includes identifying levels of decision-making:
- Level 1: A decision that a person makes and does not need to tell their leader about
- Level 2: A decision that a person makes on their own and tells the leader about, along with an explanation as to why the decision was made
- Level 3: A decision that cannot be made without input from the leader
Knowing the difference between the levels of decisions comes from practicing and learning with each other to understand those decisions.
The process is not static.
As more trust is gained, the leader and the direct report will become more confident in the level of decisions that can be made without input from the leader. Over time, the quantity of Level 3 decisions is dramatically reduced.
4. They avoid the “too few” syndrome, which stunts growth. What do we mean too few? There are many “too fews” that can damage culture, which stunts growth. Here are just a few:
- When something big needs deep and critical thinking, launching, or solving, and the same few names come up to lead the charge, then you have too few.
- When you have many individuals that feel comfortable in silos, must always be right, or must be the star of the show, then you have too few people who know how to be part of a productive and cohesive team. The power of a productive team is almost always exponentially higher than any one individual – even if the individual is a superstar in their specific role.
- When you spend most of your day buried in operations and firefighting, then you have too few hours to think and act strategically.
Even if you implement just one of these practices, you will begin to increase your own stamina and enjoyment, which is much needed as leaders continue to thrive and embrace, head-on, the opportunities and challenges that evolve in what feels like every minute of every day.