Great leaders do great things. We know that. There are heroic acts. There are momentous decisions. Those things get a lot of attention.
But that’s not all leaders do. It’s not what they do most of the time. When the noise dies down and you stand back, you notice that great leaders do the same things over and over. They do them every day. They do them without calling attention to them. They do them without fanfare.
Great Leaders Share the Message
You can’t just give one speech or write one memo and have your key message stick. You’ve got to repeat it. You’ve got to repeat it several times a day. You’ve got to repeat it when you’re sick of repeating it. That’s what great leaders do.
Great Leaders Develop Independent Information Sources
Reports and briefings are great. But you can’t depend on them alone. Every bit of information that you get from an inside source is filtered through personal interest. So, great leaders develop independent sources of information.
You can’t wait for important information to come to you. You must get out and find your own sources of information. You must get out of the office. You must talk to people outside your organization. You must read things that no one else reads. You must talk to people with an independent view. You must be willing to hear uncomfortable truths. That’s what great leaders do.
Great Leaders Have Conversations
Important truths don’t necessarily come with bright neon letters labeled “The Truth.” You must find the truth in places where it doesn’t stand out. You must have conversations with people and learn things in the give and take you won’t learn from formal sources. Conversations help you know both the situation and your people. So, have a lot of conversations. That’s what great leaders do.
Great Leaders Say, “Thank You”
You can’t depend on people knowing that you appreciate their good work. You can’t allow formal documents to be the only thank-you they get. You must say thank you. You must say it often. You must seek out opportunities to say it. That’s what great leaders do.
Great Leaders Praise the Praiseworthy
Praise is how you help things get better. You must praise the things you want to continue. You must praise the things you think are good. You must praise progress as people get better. That’s what great leaders do.
Great Leaders Set the Example
Your example communicates more than your words can say. Your example defines the values you believe are important. Your example takes away the excuses of the lazy. You must act the way you want others in your organization to act. That’s what great leaders do.
There are lots of things that great leaders do that aren’t public or dramatic. Share the message. Develop independent information sources. Have conversations. Say thank you. Praise the praiseworthy. Let the credit go. Set the example. That’s what great leaders do.