What the Best Leaders Do Differently

by | May 13, 2019 | How To, Leadership, Leadership Library, Management

When someone talks about the qualities of a great leader, most of us picture the same type of person – authentic, considerate, creative, smart, etc., but did you know one of the greatest leaders of all time was anything but a “traditional leader?” According to Fast Company, Steve Jobs didn’t care what the public thought of him. He often didn’t even realize he had hurt someone’s feelings. He was straight-forward, and always offered his honest criticism, even if it included a curse word or two.

While Steve Jobs’ leadership habits probably wouldn’t work in most organization, it goes to show that great leaders often don’t fit into the cookie cutter mold we imagine for them, and out of the ordinary tips can work. About discussed the book First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, a book that presents the findings of the Gallup organization’s interviews with 80,000+ successful managers. The conclusions might surprise you. Here are the key findings discussed in the book.

A New Approach to Human Resource Development

Great managers don’t waste time on trying to fix an employee’s weaker skills. Instead, they assess each employee’s talents and skills, then provide training, coaching, and development opportunities to help the person increase these skills, then compensate for or manage around weaknesses.

This doesn’t mean that great managers never help employees improve their inadequate skills, they just shift their focus to human resource development in areas where the employee shines.

Select People Based on Talent

The Gallup interviews found that great managers selected staff based on talent, not experience, education, or development. Gallup identified the following as talents:

  • Striving – the drive for achievement, need for expertise, strives to put beliefs into action
  • Thinking – focus, discipline, personal responsibility
  • Relating – empathy, attentiveness to individual differences, ability to persuade, taking charge

Managers can be more effectively supported by Human Resources if they implement methods for identifying these talents, such as testing or behavioral interviewing. When looking at a candidate’s previous experience, look for patterns of talent application. For example, did the candidate develop each of their positions from scratch?

When Setting Expectations for Employees, Establish the Right Outcomes

Great managers take the time to set goals for each individual that are congruent with the organization’s needs. About says, “They help each employee define the expected outcomes, what success will look like upon completion. Then, they get out of the way.”

Most employees work better when they are not under the constant supervision of a manager, so it makes sense to allow the employee to determine their own “right path” to accomplish their objectives. The majority of the time the employee will employ a strategy that highlights her unique talents and abilities.

As a manager, you will want to establish checkpoints for feedback, but micromanaging your employees is always a mistake. Not only will you become exhausted, but you will also lose your best employees.

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