The 7 Tools of Great Leaders

Too many of us are transactional managers focusing on activity and ignoring our real mission—to promote growth.

Your purpose as a leader is to become a source of growth for the people around you. There’s nothing more sacred or important in your work than helping others grow. To do this, you need to draw upon seven powerful tools.

Serving as a source of growth requires a deliberate effort to:

1. Pay attention. Your willingness to listen and focus on the work of your colleagues is a high form of showing respect. Respect is rocket fuel for relationships.

2. Trust. Try giving your trust instead of requiring people to earn it. This gesture is most often reciprocated, and the payback includes increased morale, improved motivation and better performance. If your trust is abused, deal with it at that time. Just quit demanding that others earn your trust first.

3. Coach. Good people are looking for help to improve and grow. Observe, offer feedback and employ feed-forward daily.

4. Challenge. Work that pushes us into unfamiliar areas and demands new ways of thinking and acting promotes growth. You may have to shove or take something away or ask someone to step sideways or backward, but you must challenge them to help them grow.

5. Praise. Delivering praise is more art than science. Learn the preferences of your team members for public or private praise and tailor your approach accordingly. Just don’t let a victory go unacknowledged.

6. Accept. We are who we are, complete with all of our flaws. Instead of focusing on fixing the flaws, accept them and focus on exposing and developing the strengths.

7. Love. The L word does not show up in most books or articles about leadership. That’s a shame. The best leaders not only love their work, but they also love the people they are working with every single day.

Too many of us are transactional managers focusing on minute-to-minute activity and ignoring our real mission—to promote growth. We drive our people to chase the urgent, and we forget to employ the tools above that stimulate high performance and significant growth. Sometimes, you have to slow down to move faster.

Art Petty is a coach and consultant working with executives and management teams to unlock business and human potential. He writes the Leadership Caffeine blog.

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