The energy from a leadership conference can feel palpable, leaving many wishing they could “bottle it” and pack it next to their lanyard when they travel home.
Leaders return to their teams, and offices inspired, rejuvenated, and eager to take on new challenges and execute new ideas, only to be met by the blunt force trauma of Monday morning.
After finding 500 emails in their inbox and extinguishing six employee-conflict fires (all before they’ve had their coffee), leaders feel their energy and inspiration evaporate faster than morning dew on a summer day. Before they realize it, the status quo has pulled them back into the malaise of old habits.
While conferences offer a few days of optimism, new perspectives, and alternate leadership ideas, is it possible for a leader to consistently provide inspiring leadership to their teams long after the conference is over?
Consider a professional athlete for a moment.
Whether it’s a golfer’s perfect drive or a ballerina’s movement, their action appears seamless–almost easy. But it’s not because it is easy. Rather, it’s because they’ve practiced and integrated hundreds of intentional decisions every day into their actions.
The same is true for the executive leader. Great leadership doesn’t emanate from one new idea overnight. It takes intentionality every day.
Conferences may provide starting blocks like new ideas and strategies to help leaders, but it’s up to the leader to run their race every day with their teams.
As one PROMARK coach shared:
“At the end of the day, to be a great leader you must live it every day. Don’t wait to attend a conference to be reminded. Your employees will do that for you if you are an inspiring, engaging leader.”
5 Practices to Enhance Your Leadership
A leader’s to-do list, meetings, phone calls, etc., may keep them hidden from their workforce, only to be seen in the halls between meetings or in the elevator. While a leader is responsible to accomplish their own KPIs to ensure company growth and alignment, intentional leaders find ways not just to be around their teams but to be present with them. Ways to practice being present:
Don’t summon a team member to your office. When possible and appropriate, go to them to engage in necessary conversation.
Learn about the team members you encounter most often: Ask about their families. Know the ways they contribute to the company’s success.
Find creative ways to stay connected to your workforce–no matter how high you climb the ladder.
Balancing the vital roles that shareholder and employee expectations play in a company’s growth and sustainability pulls a leader’s attention in hundreds of directions. If they’re not careful, leaders can carry their distraction into interactions with others, listening with one ear in and one ear out. While the pressures on leaders are many, great leaders slow down to fully invest themselves in the conversation at hand. Studies show that among the plethora of leadership traits employees find important in a leader, “the ability to be mindfully present is the most essential of all.”1
“Leaders are learners,” which is why external events like conferences are beneficial. But with today’s technology, every leader has more information in the palm of her hand than in all the world’s conferences put together. And all it takes is opening an app. Today’s leaders have unprecedented access to an almost infinite amount of resources through podcasts, audiobooks, videos, and more. Great leaders not only develop themselves but share their discoveries with their teams. Perhaps they develop an email list to share insights with employees or an online repository for mutual learnings, takeaways, and feedback from others.
Be Clear, Not Impressive
Countless stories exist of leaders who thought that the best way to develop rapport, engagement, and consistency with their teams was to drown them in fancy but vague ways of speaking. These leaders may impress a few, but they have an incredibly hard time clearly conveying a company’s vision, mission, and strategies necessary to move forward. Great leaders provide their teams with a clear vision, clear expectations, and clear channels for communication, transparency, and accountability.
Don’t Make Self-Care a Four-Letter Word
This may not seem as pragmatic as the others, but self-care is vital for a leader’s everyday effectiveness. Anymore, self-care isn’t an option for the occasional moment of free time; it’s an intrinsic aspect of a healthy leader’s work habits.2
Though a leader may master every aspect of leadership, if they’re constantly frayed at the edges, the tapestry of their life may soon unravel. And a burned-out leader is no leader at all. [Don’t think you should worry about burnout? Check out our post on burnout.]
Intentionality Today = Effectiveness Tomorrow
Inspiring leadership takes intentionality every day to adopt, contextualize, and translate these practices into your leadership habits.
And while three- or four-day conferences play a genuine role in a leader’s growth, they’re no replacement for a leader’s pursuing intentionality today, so they can be effective tomorrow.
Want to grow in your ability to integrate these practices into your leadership every day? Let us know. Contact us today.