Don’t read another leadership book

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Here’s a news flash. The worst leaders aren’t bad because they don’t know what they should do. Great leaders aren’t great because they read the most books. You’re judged based on what you do. So before you spring for another leadership book, here are some things to try.

Touch base a lot

Great leadership is built on great relationships and knowledge of what the world is like for your teammates. Both of those good things start with you touching base a lot. You might walk the floor in a factory or use technology to touch base with distant teammates. Make touching base a cornerstone of your leadership style.

Have conversations

Conversations are how relationships grow and are nourished. We’re talking about real conversations between adults, where everyone talks and everyone listens. All it takes to start a conversation is a question, so what are you waiting for?

Set clear and reasonable expectations

Be as clear as you can about what you expect. If you don’t tell team members, they will guess and you might not like what they come up with. After you share your expectations, check for understanding. Later, go and see if understanding has turned into behavior or performance.

Give frequent, specific, and usable feedback

When you give a lot of feedback, it becomes expected. Make it a habit and make sure that more than a little of it is positive.

Be specific about the behavior or performance you’re giving feedback on. Use neutral, adjective-free language to describe it.

Feedback should be a dialogue between adults, not a scolding session or an excuse party. The test of how well you give feedback is whether the other person leaves the conversation thinking about what will change and not about how you treated them.

Praise what you want more of

Praise achievement. Praise progress. Praise effort. If you want more of it, praise it.

Allow people to control their work

When people can make the basic decisions about their work, they’re more motivated and more productive. That’s good for everyone. But it only works if you let people make both decisions and mistakes. Let go and unleash your teammates.

Use the magic words

They’re the ones your mother taught you. Say, Please.” Say, “Thank you.”

Bottom Line

Do these things. They’ve worked for generations of leaders and they will work for you. Then you can read up on how to do them better. Remember it’s what you do that counts.

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