From the 42nd Floor to the Mailroom

Whether you have a glorious title, fresh out of Ivy U with the ink barely dry on your MBA pdf leading thousands or you’re simply taking care of those in your charge in a supporting function, you have the power and the responsibility to lead within your four walls.  One of the greatest examples of the opportunity to lead occurs when giving feedback to someone you work with. Maybe you have a reporting relationship or maybe you don’t.  The Elegant Leader understands their role is to help others – to communicate more often and solve problems together. That’s why you’re here! There are hundreds of examples we can perform in our roles every day to improve the current and future state of our company and the people we serve. Giving feedback is one of the most influential opportunities we enjoy as leaders.

Having a simple informal conversation about what’s working and what’s not prompts both the leader and the listener the opportunity for healthy dialog as to how we can be better together going forward. Sadly, what happens in many cases is we’re juggling multiple projects, tasks, departments and divisions everyone fighting for their attention ensuring ‘it’ gets done now – somehow because we feel we’re the most important one within the four walls.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln

Taking the time, less than 5 minutes, to have a conversation that conveys you give a damn about that person enough to see them succeed means more to them than any raise or promotion you could give. Time! Time is the ultimate commodity for a leader in today’s hair-on-fire globally competitive environment. They – the ones on the receiving end of your conversation – know how valuable your time is and you’re essentially honoring them by sacrificing your time in favor of the conversation. That’s earning respect and that’s Elegant Leadership in a bottle! You can’t buy that and you sure as hell can’t fake it either.

When you were a junior exec, success in your role then was about being good at performing your job, your function. You show up, work hard, take training and come back to be good at your job, to execute. If you’re good in that role, chances are you’ll be promoted. Now, as a leader, you’re in a role you know little about. You may or may not understand the tricks and traps with this role, the political landmines and sacred cows strewn about. Here are 6 aspects of leading within your four walls:

The Transition. There’s a period of adjustment for you in the role and for those to adjust to you. Some of you transition slowly, some quickly, and some never get it. Some organizations have an action plan or critical path for you to walk along – the boundaries, by which, success gets measured. In other words, these expectations or standards are what we expect from you to execute and to implement. The grey area still exists between what’s expected and what’s actually done because every perception is different.

The People. Now, you’re responsible for the people or if you’ve risen quickly or hired in up the food chain, you’re responsible for people who are responsible for the people who do the job. You’ll likely lean on what Michael Porter taught you about competition or Kanter’s theory of attitudes and behaviors of organizational dynamics. It’s no substitute from the 50 shades of black and blue you’ll learn on a daily basis by interacting with people like you and some less fortunate than those from your environment, pedigree or academic standing. Leading is learning and also listening and you control both every day!

Apply Yourself. Leadership is a practical, learnable skill and if you practice it you will become good at it – meaning there’s good, better and best. Where are you on the scale new guy or gal? Good suck! So don’t be good, move your ass and learn as quickly as possible. Research tells us it takes upwards of 10,000 repetitions to master a skill and you don’t have time to master ‘it.’ You’re expected to know and your only way to know and grow is to put in the time and the reps.

Lead Them. Just like parenting, everyone has the capacity to be one. It doesn’t mean everyone should be or everyone would want to be – it takes sacrifice. You get it that leadership is constantly listening and learning, applying, modifying, correcting and solving situations and problems on a daily if not an hourly basis. Time is a sacrifice. Leadership is not sacrificing other people in your charge so you may eventually succeed. It’s sacrificing yourself so other’s within your charge can attain a level of proficiency, success and fulfillment in their role as a contributor, a manager and so on. What will you do to ensure your people get it?

Gratitude. Giving away credit is a magical multiplier.  It works equally well in business and in our personal lives.  Harnessing this magic requires an attitude of gratitude, and without a sincere sense of gratitude, sharing credit is just another manipulative trick bound to backfire. I read one-time gratitude is the weakest of all human emotions. We all know we have much to be grateful for, but in the heat of life’s daily battles, we often fail to act on this knowledge. Just like so many other secrets to success, a sense of gratitude must be cultivated into a habit before we see its magical benefits. For the Elegant Leader when things go right, give away the credit and when it gets hosed, embrace it, you own it. Take responsibility for it transparently without any hint of it’s something or someone other than you. Your integrity is at stake here, so don’t blow it!

Oops! You can yell and scream and take over, but you know you shouldn’t. You can have them try again, take a do-over because shit will happen. Here’s the time you show your true colors, how resilient you are and how much you’ve learned, invested in and committed to them to this point. Sometimes, things will be out of your control and somehow you, in all your glorious educated wisdom, weren’t prepared for or you didn’t anticipate something like this to occur. Get over it and move on. Lead your people and your team with the same integrity and character you’ve been leading with. Demonstrate your transparency and lean into the problem, situation or crisis and lead.

As the FNG, you may not be the one responsible for the results. You may not even be responsible for the people who are responsible for the results depending on your role within the organization. You are accountable for the people, who are responsible for the people who get the results for your organization. Remember, Elegant Leadership is far more than serving others and leading with dignity. That’s what people with common sense do in positions of leadership.

The Four Attributes of Elegant Leadership:  

They distill information to make the greatest impact – SIMPLICITY

They create a better, stronger future – POWER

They move forward with action on what will work – PRACTICAL

They are refined and resilient working towards goals while strengthening relationships – GRACEFUL

Every month we host the Elegant Leaders Advantage, an exclusive FREE introduction into what Elegant Leadership with Voltage is, why it matters and how you can implement the strategies to lead your people and teams to greater communication and engagement with stronger relationships delivering 5X greater results immediately. Click here for more information.

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