Winning leaders continue to win time and time again because of certain specific and consistent traits. Among these is the ability to accept responsibility. They are profoundly aware that the actions of their team drive the results, and their own behaviors as leaders move their team to take those actions. Winning leaders accept that responsibility. They know that the buck stops with them and they intentionally determine what the absolute highest priorities are and create importance around them through their actions. They know that words alone are not sufficient and that even printed documents are not strong enough. Importance truly depends on their own behaviors to create the shared vision. What they do reinforces what they say. If they say that something is important but never train, coach, mentor, and create accountability around it, that thing never becomes truly important to anyone else and as a result they have to own the negative outcome.
This is demonstrated with building relationships. I’ve witnessed time and time again where leaders say that their teams are important, but their actions never show that they truly are. They go through the motions during meetings, giving out recognition or awards, but then on a daily basis they walk by their team members in the hall without a genuine smile or heartfelt “Good morning”. Make no mistake about this, the team sees these behaviors and then recognize the awards as fake rituals that have no real meaning in their lives other than another potential bullet point on their resume.
Winning leaders accept the responsibility of action for building relationships. They don’t just talk about it. They spend quality one-on-one time with each person and even if the quantity of time is limited, they make each person feel special in every single encounter. Each casual conversation is important, each passing comment is real, and each spoken word is one of encouragement. While standing ovations can be extremely powerful and life-changing, winning leaders don’t solely praise in public, they also do so in private where the depth of appreciation can be openly shared without the distraction of glaring eyes. Even when providing coaching or direction, owning the responsibility for making the relationship important makes the team member feel valued. Understanding that if their teams are to grow and flourish, winning leaders accept the responsibility of creating a culture of support for their relationships.
A team’s actions are created by the behaviors of the leaders above them. What is important to the boss becomes important to the team and those priorities are set by the boss’s behaviors, not just their words. If the relationship we have with our individual team members isn’t strong, and their behaviors are not what we want them to be, we need to accept responsibility for our own action as the ultimate driver of our results.
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