One of the privileges of organizational leadership is getting to watch other leaders grow in the way they lead their teams.  Over the course of this week, there were a handful of situations that helped to highlight what strong leadership looks like. Here are the 5 differences that stood out between the strong and the weak leaders:

#1 Values-Based Decision Making: Weak leaders don’t have a values compass for decision making. 

Not only does this increase decision making fatigue and slow things down, but it also tends to lead to instability within the team.  Strong leaders lay the foundation with values, limiting a host of other options.

Sure there may be some nuance in how the decision is made.  It could be a little Northeast or a little Northwest but values-based decision making at least helps to eliminate all of the options on the remaining three-quarters of the compass.  Like the characters in Toy Story, it’s in these moments that the values go from words that organizations hang on the wall, to actions, attitudes, and behaviors that come alive. They start to really matter!

#2 Whole Life Awareness: Weak leaders live by axioms such as, “I don’t get involved in my team’s personal lives

There’s never been a time when professional and personal lives have been more intertwined.  While team members’ work lives have always impacted ‘home’ and vice versa, social media and smartphone access have certainly magnified the reality of leading ‘the whole person.’  Weak leaders live by axioms such as, “I don’t get involved in my team’s personal lives” and are severely hindered. Strong leaders are aware and well-intentioned toward the way work-life impacts home life and home life impacts work life.  It’s in the most challenging of work and life moments, that we have the greatest opportunity as leaders to support, encourage and protect people.

#3 Context Matters: Weak leaders tell people what to do. 

Strong leaders teach people how to think by providing background and context to help people not only make wise decisions but also grow deeper in their knowledge of the business or organization.  Sharing a bit about the history, past circumstances that were similar, and some of the factors that shape the way you look at such a situation are immensely powerful in not just “getting something done” but also providing insight to consider how to navigate when future situations arise. Strong leaders take the extra time to give this context and it conveys that you want the team member to be the hero. 

#4 The Power of Transparency: Weak leaders hide more information than is necessary. 

It sends the message that people are not trustworthy and/or capable.  Strong leaders provide safe places for team members to learn and understand the thought process behind decisions and it also teaches them to ask good questions.  As an organization, the litmus test for what information is best protected is INCREDIBLY high and generally falls in one of two categories; compensation or details related to other team members. 

#5 Encouragement: Weak leaders tear down and diminish. 

 Strong leaders bring courage to people.  This has been one of the most challenging areas to grow in as a leader, personally.  It’s not that I don’t think a whole bunch of our team members are doing a great job; I do!  It simply hasn’t always been natural for me (YET) to stop and recognize the incredible investment and overall contribution.  That being said, in pursuit of becoming a strong leader, each of us will have different challenges. This is the one for me – to specifically and intentionally reach out to members of our team to communicate appreciation and honor for the work they do.  

There are of course many more.  What are some of the most significant differentiators you’ve experienced or pursued as a growing leader?  Comment below and let me know!

Josh Block

Author Josh Block

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