Leadership is all about – making a difference in the lives of others
Most managers have good intentions – they want to be known as a developmental manager, but there’s often a huge gap between the “should do” and the “do.” In many cases, managers just don’t know how.
1. Start with yourself.
Before you can credibly and effectively develop others, you should develop yourself first, if not you’ll come across as an arrogant hypocrite who looks at development as being needed for everyone else, but not yourself. Shaping behavior starts with role modeling – and it also helps you learn how to get good at development.
2. Establish a foundation of trust and mutual respect.
Employees need to know that a development discussion isn’t just a sneaky way to get an employee to admit their weaknesses.
2.1. Don’t over commit and do keep your promises. Being seen as unreliable is a form of mistrust. Don’t promise or commit to something unless you know you can honor the commitment. Then, follow through. Do what you say you’re going to do.
2.2 Keep confidences. Being seen as someone who can't keep a secret is another cause of mistrust. However, as a manager, don’t promise confidentiality if you aren’t sure if you can or should keep the information from others (i.e., performance, legal, ethical issues).
2.3 Admit your mistakes. Admitting your mistakes (or weaknesses) shows vulnerability, humility, and accountability. Don’t look for someone else to blame. Learn from your mistake, don’t dwell on it, and move on.
2.4. Get feedback. While it’s a tough pill to swallow, awareness that your employees don’t trust you is the first step to recovery. A lack of trust can mean many things, and getting specific feedback is a way to diagnose the problem and take the right corrective actions.
2.5. Share credit and acknowledge the contributions of others. Be an advocate for other’s ideas, especially your peers. Being seen as “stealing” one of your employee’s innovative ideas is a trust deal-breaker!
2.6. Don’t do anything “newsworthy”. That is, don’t do anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable reading about in the newspaper the next day. Your character as a leader is defined by the decisions you make while no one is watching.
2.7. Don’t gossip. Don’t talk about others behind their backs, unless it’s something positive. If you do, others will assume you’re doing the same to them. And if you say something positive, you can assume it will get back to them.
2.8. Share information. Leaders often keep people in the dark about where they are going or what they are planning. In the absence of good information, people draw their own conclusions. Guesswork is a shaky foundation of trust. Give people consistent updates, status reports, and explain the reasons for your decisions.
2.9. Get to know people, develop relationships. If you take the time to get to know others and share information about yourself, people will be less likely to question your motives and give you the benefit of the doubt.
2.10. Make sure your message is consistent. Leadership starts with a clear and consistent vision, goals, and values. Don’t say different things to different audiences, in an attempt to please everyone. And if you change your mind about something, explain why your opinion has changed.
2.11. Be a straight-shooter. When asked a question, give a complete, direct answer – no smoke and mirrors. If you don’t have the answer, don’t fake it.
2.12. Trust your employees. As a leader, it’s not your employee’s responsibility to “earn” your trust. You assume your employees are trustworthy and treat them like you trust them. Your employees will be more willing to trust you if they know you trust them.
3. Turn your weekly meetings into learning opportunities.
Development isn’t a once or twice a year event, or something you send your employees to HR or a training class.
4. Ask questions.
Coaching questions force the employee to think and figure it out for himself or herself.