We have all seen great leaders in our life. And, when we stop to think about it, we can probably describe the things that we like about these leaders and what we strive to emulate. Yet those things are not the things that make them great.
Great leaders almost always have a very strategic plan that you don’t know anything about. A plan that they enact ‘behind the scenes’ so to speak. Great leaders have a way of only showing the tip of the iceberg. You see what they want you to see. But it is what is underneath the water that really counts in terms of effective leadership.
Below are 4 things that great leaders think about daily.
- Vision. Great leaders have a vision. But not just any vision. They have a vision that they imagine and refine every day. They take time to develop and hone it. They work to see, with granular detail, the outcomes they want. And they think about ways to communicate that vision to others. They think about how to do this in a way that inspires others to join them in the pursuit of the vision. Many leaders keep a journal or write out their ideas on white boards or post-its. They review their notes daily. They say affirmations of their vision out loud. They fall asleep thinking about how to pitch that vision to others.
- Organizational structure. Great leaders think about their organizational structure and how it aligns with their vision. They work through this structure by defining roles and respective duties. They verbally communicate goals for everyone under their umbrella and constantly think about how to provide effective feedback to them. They take time each day to tell others how they are performing and whether they are meeting expectations. Many leaders study how to provide feedback in a way that boosts morale instead of dampening it. They read books on this, but most importantly they practice through action, and then think about how each feedback encounter went. They ruminate on these encounters in their minds. This too they write about in their journals.
- Organizational culture. Great leaders recognize that they are responsible for the ‘vibe’ in the office. They recognize that developing this ‘vibe’ is one of the most important things that they can do. They take time to think about how they want others to act, and then they think about how they can hold themselves accountable to acting that very same way. Great leaders will reflect on their day and consider what they have done well, by way of setting the office example, and what they have not, so that it can be improved the next day. Many leaders will write their reflections down and review them each day over breakfast or coffee. This accelerates the rate as which they get better at doing this.
- Networks. Great leaders create and maintain meaningful and deep relationships with other people, organizations, and the community at large. They take this seriously, and much more seriously than they let on. They think through their schedules carefully, and they carve out time for coffees, volunteer meetings, networking events, and they think creatively about how to show their support for others. While they are ferociously busy with other pressing things having to do with their own bottom line, great leaders often dream about how future meetings will go, who they should reach out to next, and who they haven’t talked to in a while. They think about how to follow-up with people. Many leaders keep a spreadsheet of recent contacts as well as encounter notes in their journals. As a result, they are ready to engage in relevant conversations when opportunities present themselves.
Most likely the great leaders in your life have thought about these things daily for years, and they have incorporated them into their daily actions a way that looks and feels very natural. Yet, for most great leaders, you would never know the hours they have invested into the process.
One common theme is that leaders leverage the power of writing and journaling. We would love to hear your thoughts. Do you keep a journal? What do you take notes on?
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Dr. Ganem is founder and director of Lion Leadership, a consulting organization and that helps private and non-profit companies with leadership and managerial development, strategic planning, and organizational effectiveness. She is primary writer for the ROAR blog at www.ImTheLion.com where readers gain perspective on themselves, their organizations, and how to reach their potential at work.