Leadership: Focus on the Fundamentals

Whether you are a first-time leader, an experienced professional taking over a new team or a senior leader who can use a little leadership pick-me-up, focusing on these five fundamentals will serve you and your teams well:

1. It starts with showing respect. Respect is the leader’s currency, and you cannot earn it unless you give it. A title doesn’t command personal respect, it’s your words and actions that help you bankroll this critical capital. Speak kindly. Pay attention. Slow down and strive to understand. Don’t let your devices distract you in mid-conversation or meeting. Show that you care and offer help where you can. Paying attention to someone is a high form of displaying respect.

2. Try giving your trust instead of requiring people to earn it. Flip the equation around and give trust first. We all know when we’re on trial for someone’s trust and the tension created by this trial alters the relationship in an unproductive manner. Yes, some people will end up kicking you in the teeth after you’ve given them your trust, but then you’ll know for certain. I’ll take this risk any day.

3. Learn to give feedback that is meaningful. “Feedback is the breakfast of champions” (Ken Blanchard) and you need to give timely, behavioral, business focused feedback early and often. This tool is as close as you’ll come to the mythical silver bullet. It won’t fix every problem…but it is a tool to fixing or resolving all of them when it comes to people and behavioral issues in the workplace. Feedback helps good performers become great performers and it supports the process for weeding out the under-performers.

4. Give ample earned positive praise. Enough said.

5. Adjust your attitude when you hit the door. People mirror the boss’s attitude or mood and you can’t afford to be off, regardless of the hassles at home or the traffic ticket on the way to work. Hit the door and begin communicating by applying the points above.

The Bottom-Line for Now

You don’t need the $2,000 course before you start working and succeeding by applying the basics. Like practicing an instrument, drilling on the fundamentals in a sport or pursuing any other challenging endeavor, right after showing up, the fundamentals are the most important tools in your tool kit.

Art Petty is principal at Art Petty Group, a professional development consultancy. This blog previously appeared at Information Management, a SourceMedia Publication.

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