Sunday, December 2, 2012

9 Christmas Gifts Every Leader Needs

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is around the corner.  Last year, I shared a bit called "The 12 Days of Christmas for Teachers" (Click Here), and I outlined 12 ideas that leaders could use to show their staff how they appreciate them for the great things that they do for kids.  This year, I'd like to challenge us to thank our leaders for all that they do for kids and adults.  Before you start to think about what you should buy for your leader, I want to you to read a little further.

The first thought that will come to mind is this.  "Is this another post to thank our bosses or buy them some neat gift?"  Well, let's get this straight.  This post is for leaders, not bosses.  Bosses need things.  Leaders need growth.  Leaders don't mandate and dictate.  They guide and facilitate.  They serve and support. The best leaders lead us to places we don't necessarily want to go but ought to be for the betterment of the entire organization.  In other words, leaders help followers grow, but without growth of their own, leaders can't possibly facilitate growth in followers.

So what do leaders need for Christmas?  

Here are a few non-tangible suggestions that every leader must have to be a better leader.

Candid Conversations
Engaging leaders in real conversation helps leaders grow.  Asking clarifying questions about the leader's vision, goals and action steps helps leaders solidify their own thought process and helps leaders become clearer in their communication and more concrete in defining what it is that they are actually trying to do.

The worst thing you can do for a leader is tell them that things are great when they are anything but that.  Giving leaders honest opinions and perceptions helps leaders strengthen the organization.  Telling a leader what you think he wants to hear actually weakens the organization.

'Real' Reality
Leaders always hear the best representation or a filtered representation of the current reality of the organization.  Whether they want to hear it or not, leaders need to know the realness of your perception of the organization's reality.  Anything other than that weakens leaders and does them a disservice.

Some people think that leaders come to work everyday fired up and ready to lead.  That just isn't humanly possible.  Leaders need to be filled with a positive spirit and nothing is more encouraging than inspiration from those that they serve.

Success Stories
Leaders need to hear the success happening in the organization. With the pressures of day to day responsibilities, leaders rarely hear about the small victories. Small victories need to be shared so the leader knows the team is winning the war. 

As much as leaders don't want to hear that things are going bad, they have to know the truth. The truth hurts in the short term but helps leaders in the long run.  

Leaders can come to work lacking pep in their step. If you see your leader, motivate them and encourage them that what they're doing is helping the organization get better. 

This one is hard, but leaders need accountability more than anyone. If the leader said he was going to do something but never got around to it, ask them about it. Leaders need reminders and accountability from followers to get the job done. No accountability, no growth.

Leaders don't have all the answers and can't always know the best pathway.  To strengthen your leader, stimulate his intellect with questions and suggestions. By engaging your leader in challenging dialogue, you are also strengthening his leadership capacity. Yes, leaders need to get better at leading.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Sure, getting a Christmas gift makes leaders feel valued, but few gifts propel leaders forward.  We have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that things don't make a lasting impression.  Relationships do. Leaders become better when they get the best gift of Christmas, more critical friends.  I hope this season you will give your leader the gift of becoming a critical friend to him or her.

No comments:

Post a Comment