100% Jodi: How to Reach New Levels of Leadership Part II

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Hello everyone and thank you for joining me!

Today I am continuing the conversation I started in the last episode on the various levels of leadership as related to the workplace. This is such an important topic because there are nuances to leadership that you may not be aware of and continuous growth and improvement are required if you want to make the impact you dream about.

Your awareness of the different levels of leadership and what’s required at each level will affect your ability to get promoted and your ability to be successful after you’ve been promoted.

Promoted five times within 6 years, I learned a lot about how and what I needed to develop within myself. Some of it was baptism by fire because of the pace I was promoted at. It’s painful to see others struggle, unaware that if they took a different approach to their role as a leader they would get much better results, experience less frustration and they wouldn’t have to work so hard to get those results.

You may have experienced struggles that were due to not knowing how you needed to shift your leadership as you rose through the ranks. I’m going to go through some common leadership levels and talk about the skills and mindsets you need to take on if you want to achieve them and be successful in that position once you get there.

In the last episode we talked about the Entry Level Leader/Individual contributor and the Frontline people leader. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to that episode go back and listen to Levels of Leadership Part I.

In this episode I’m going to talk about another two levels of leadership: leading other leaders and leading volunteers.

Leading multiple teams and managing people leaders

At this level of leadership you are dealing with a lot of moving parts. You will have teams that will have different dynamics, functions, goals, and motivations, and you need to be adaptable to meet and support them all.

This level of leadership requires a greater ability to be organized and communicate well. In addition to these skills you need more presence and a greater ability to influence. You’re listening skills and self-awareness will have you stand out from your peers so find ways to continue to get to know yourself and others better. When someone is talking to you ignore the chatter in your head and focus on truly understanding what the other person is trying to communicate and why they are communicating the information in the way they are communicating it.

At this leadership level you are more of a decision maker so your time is going to be spent differently. You are going to be spending more time reading, having pre-meeting discussions to prepare for meetings, more time in meetings making decisions, and following up on the commitments you and others made during the meeting.

You will also stand out from your peers if you are prepared for the meetings you attend and if the meetings you are responsible for running are highly productive and start and end on time. You are also likely running meetings that are attended by people who don’t report directly to you. You have to be able to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas, while also knowing when it’s time to rein in a dominant personality, or shift the conversation to the next topic, all while leaving people feeling heard and respected. It’s a merry dance; don’t expect to be good at it right away. You’ll get better with feedback and time. Listen to the feedback and give yourself some time.

Greater communication, organization, and setting expectations are your keys to success. In terms of communication, mix it up. It’s important to know when it’s best to communicate in-person, via email or messaging, by phone, etc. If you are working with remote employees your options are more limited but this does not need to be a stumbling block. Video calls and conferencing do not completely replace the in-person meeting, but they go a long way to creating personal connections and a team environment.

As for expectations, the more explicit your expectations are the better.

More often than not people disappoint us because they had a different understanding of what was expected of them. No one sets out to fail, so if someone didn’t do what you expected, take a look at your own communication of those expectations. Find out what they understood the expectations to be before you assume they under-performed in their role. Clearly designed and communicated expectations set up your team for success. Help them succeed.

Make Improvements and Solve Problems Across the Organization

I didn’t mention this previously but at each level you also want to have an eye on where improvements can be made, where you and your team can solve problems that not only impact the area you are responsible for, but also other parts of the organization as well. Creating efficiencies is what gives an organization the bandwidth to grow and you want to be a part of that.

At this level, the more “global” your awareness is, the more you will stand out among your peers.

If it isn’t obvious yet, let me point out that with each new level of leadership you attain there is less doing and more being required. Your skills need to be less technical and more inspirational and motivational.

When you are leading more than one area you are leading leaders. There is a certain element of technical skill they need to understand to do their job: reporting, management requirements, etc. Yet there is also a greater element of guiding these leaders to develop other leaders who will come after them. You do not directly impact their team any longer but your indirect impact carries no less weight or responsibility.

The time you invest in this leader will impact who they are as a leader for their own team or teams. While you cannot directly control the experience of all the people who work within your area, your own leadership has a more powerful ripple effect on the people and the organization as a whole and it’s something to always keep top of mind.

You also need to know that the closer you are to the top of the leadership ladder, the more closely you are watched and listened to. I don’t mean to make you feel pressured or neurotic. It’s just important to know that the closer you are to the top of an organization the more people look to you for how they should be feeling, thinking and behaving. This is why it’s so important for leaders to remain calm during chaotic periods. If you look nervous or stressed everyone will panic. If you stay calm they are more likely to stay calm. They are following your lead, hence why you have a leadership role.

Leading volunteers

There is another level of leadership I didn’t experience until after leaving my corporate job, though some of you working in organizations may have experienced this. It’s leading volunteers.

Volunteers are not motivated by job security, a paycheck, or a performance review. If you want real life feedback on how skilled you are as a leader, sign up to lead volunteers.

My first experience of this was when I took on an officer position in my BNI chapter. BNI stands for Business Networking International and as the name implies it is a profession networking organization with chapters all over the world.

With a couple of exceptions, nearly everyone in my chapter was a business owner. They paid to be a part of the chapter without a 100% guarantee that they would make any money from their membership. And, for the chapter to function well, it required many members to volunteer extra time and effort to the running of the chapter.

In this episode and the last I’ve provided a list of skills required to be a good leader. I will tell you, my time as an officer in BNI honed all of these skills to a greater level.

When you want a high performance from volunteers you must get to know them as people, they have to know you care, and they have to sense your commitment to them and the group at large. They have to feel heard and supported. You have to call on their leadership abilities, commitment, and integrity to see the job through. If you want a high-performing team of volunteers they have to see you knocking your role out of the park.

You must align each individual team member’s values, goals, and work ethic to the volunteer work they are doing. You’ll be surprised by this but when people don’t do what they say they are going to do it’s because they’ve found a justification to break their word. And it’s too easy for a volunteer to say something along the lines of, “I’m not getting paid for this. This can’t be my first priority.”

As the leader of a volunteer team, if you want more than mediocre, you cannot cut corners, slack off, or bring anything less than a whole-hearted commitment to being a leader they can follow.

And if you can bring this type of committed whole-hearted leadership to people who do need the job, they will love you all the more for it.

If you are interested in having greater self-awareness in regard to your current leadership abilities and to gaining the tips, tools and perspectives that will help you to make a dramatic leap in your development as a leader,  I encourage you to take the Energy Leadership Assessment.

This attitudinal assessment captures how you perceive yourself, the people around you and the world at large. It is these very things that influence your ability to lead yourself and others to success. What we believe determines what we perceive, how we think and feel about what we perceive naturally determines the action or inaction we take as a result.

This tool will help you to identify why you deal with the same issues over and over again in different areas of your life, why you sometimes feel tired in the morning or can’t seem to engage in what’s in front of you, and how to get back to consistently being who you really are: confident, capable, and ready to make a difference.

Find out more about the Energy Leadership Assessment.

I hope these episodes on the different levels of leadership were of value to you and here’s to your success!

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