How To Be A Better Leader... Right Now!

What’s your plan to improve as a leader?

If you visit Amazon.com and type “leadership books” in the search box, you will get over 226,000 results. If you read a book a week, it would take you approximately 4346 years to read all of them. And more coffee than I can imagine. Yet you know the benefit of that “aha moment” when you find just the idea, thought, or strategy that gives you greater clarity and confidence as a leader.

If you’re so busy BEING a leader that you’re not taking time to focus on BECOMING a better one, here are seven quick ways you can start improving as soon as right now:

Pay more attention to what’s going on right in front of you.
Force yourself to single task more often. When engaging in conversation with others, free your hands of any electronic devices, folders, or anything that could distract you from what the other person is saying to you. When you finish a conversation, read an email, or walk out of a meeting, ask yourself, “What new information do I have, and what should I do with it?” Remember, information without transformation is useless.

Focus on people, not problems.
With all the data being thrown at you, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. Remind yourself that behind every statistic is a person, and it’s your job to figure out how to improve your team’s performance-one person at a time.

Plan for every moment of your day.
I hear you screaming, “But I have too many interruptions!” I agree. But NOT determining the BEST use of your time throughout the day opens the door to “filler activities” like checking email, working on tasks that require little mental energy, or just wondering what to do next. As Todd Henry writes in Die Empty, Empty space wants to be filled, and where there is an absence of purposeful activity and meaningful progress, any activity that brings the ping of immediate productivity will fill the void.

Lead with experiences.
One of my favorite conversations with a new leader or manager is helping them figure out how to solve a difficult problem. They are looking everywhere for a solution EXCEPT from their own journey and background. When you encounter difficulties, reflect on your past and see if an answer lies within it. What you find may surprise you.

Acknowledge your limitations.
Get specific about what’s in short supply for you and your team. Innovative thinking occurs best when you have a strong grasp of what problem you’re trying to solve.

Finish something.
I’ve written about it in past articles, but it’s worth repeating: Your mind doesn’t like “open loops.” It craves closure. What ‘s something you could put the finishing touches on today that would free your mind to think about bigger challenges and opportunities?

Think in terms of rhythms to maintain your effectiveness.
While routines are helpful, they don’t always allow for the significant physical, emotional, and mental demands placed on a leader. If you’re constantly “on,” As Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power Of Full Engagement, write: To maintain a powerful pulse in our lives, we must learn how to rhythmically spend and renew energy. If you are trying to lead with “no fuel in the tank,” maybe it’s time to schedule some activities to refresh your spirit and renew your resources.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on quick steps you can take to become an effective leader. They might even save each of us a little time on reading those 226,000 books on leadership.