As you work to become a better leader, or as you encourage your employees to take on more leadership roles, keep these three goals in mind:
1. Strive for progress, not maintenance.
Managers maintain the status quo, but leaders push to achieve goals. Sometimes a leader chooses the goal — for instance, a CEO may set the direction of an organization. But sometimes leaders are executing on goals set by others and define how those goals are pursued. To make progress, they may need to articulate those goals and the action to take in their pursuit, as well as influence others in the organization to take that action.
2. Seek influence, not power.
Power and leadership often coincide, but they’re different tools; one is transactional and one is interpersonal. While power comes from someone depending on you for something and authority comes from formalized hierarchy, influence is about getting people to do something they don’t have to. Command-and-control approaches have limited effectiveness because they lead to burnout and disengagement. Leaders inspire people to action. Working through influence requires more effort than exercising power, but over the long haul, it leads to more engaged, purpose-driven and productive teams.
3. Develop behavior, not traits.
Three types of behavior are key to effective leadership:
- Change-Oriented Behavior: Leaders steer and enable change. They put forth a vision, create a safe environment for people to debate ideas, and encourage openness and flexible thinking.
- Task-Oriented Behavior: Leaders establish clear and consistent expectations, defining how different roles within a team are interrelated, as well as explicitly stated standards of communication.
- Relationship-Oriented Behavior: Leaders show concern for others and make it enjoyable to be a member of the group. They earn others’ respect, build confidence, show genuine concern and investment in team members’ welfare, build relationships and defuse conflicts. They do not simply say the right things, they build an environment of psychological safety and stability and lead by example — they do not take out their moods on others. These positive behaviors have a halo effect: Group members are more likely to do these things for each other when a leader is setting that standard — as well as more likely to express job satisfaction, go above and beyond, and remain committed to the group.