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Ten Top Tips for Leaders
By Sarah Cornally

Here are the ten most common areas discussed and developed during leadership coaching and mentoring sessions with senior executives.

1. Know yourself

Every experience contains insights for you about yourself and your leadership. Who are you? What are your gifts and talents? What makes you tick? What are you needs, what are your values, what are your insecurities? How do people press your buttons? What do you need to manage that?When you engage with people what do they experience? What sort of leader do you want to be?

2. Know the purpose of your leadership

Are you pursuing a passion to achieve something that meets a need, something that matters deeply to you and the others on your team? Is it virtuous? Will it serve many positively?

If you are doing it for the prestige, the power, the significance it brings you, think of the saying "If you are not enough without it, you wont be enough with it".

3. Know your domain holistically

Have you stayed curious and asked lots of questions without pre-judgement? Have you actively been searching for reality, or a version that pleases you? Have you made it genuinely safe for people to tell you what they really think and feel? Everyone's perception is true and valid for them. Have you got a 360 degree perspective on the situation? Have you gone beyond the boundaries in seeking understanding of all the forces at play?

4. Create clarity & focus

Have you distilled what you have discovered into a relatively simple concept that a 5 year old could understand? Have you developed models and metaphors to enable people to understand the concept without the complexity? Are they emotionally enrolled? Are you certain they understand from their point of view? Are you reframing any misconceptions they express when they express them? Do you communicate it over and over and over to keep it clear and top of mind but in different ways so they stay inspired?

5. Ensure capability

When you look at others what do you see? Do you see them clearly or through your filters? Have you faced the truth about the talents and abilities of the people you require? Have you faced the truth about the resources you require? If you don't have them, have you developed a strategy to get them or modified your expectations to fit what you have? You can use this for growth and development of people's capability which engenders commitment, loyalty and synergy. When mistakes are made do you use them as discovery learning?

6. Be fully present

Are you 100% present with people when they are with you? Do you listen to what they say and what they mean? Do you let them know when you are preoccupied so they understand your responses.

7. Ensure alignment

Do you notice the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours in the people you lead? They are the evidence of people's subconscious drivers. Do you know what the needs are of the people you are leading? Do you meet those needs so they are free to give their best.

Are you an embodiment of the values in everything that you do and the things you say? Do people embody the values in the things they say and they way they do them? Do you encourage dialogue which explores why do people think & feel what they think & feel about xyz.

Do you embrace conflict as a healthy source of energy? Do you focus on your objectives and develop it into creativity and innovation?

8. Establish and maintain the standards

Finding a balance between freedom and responsibility is important. Do people know what the standards are? Do you uphold them? Are you fair and consistent in the way you deal with these issues? Are you respected for your standards? It is important that the standards make sense and are consistent with what you are trying to achieve.

Having something to live up to builds self esteem. We respond well to challenge as long as it stretches us and we have a sense it is potentially within our reach. It's the leader's role to maintain the creative tension that leads to results.

9. Build bridges

Have you stopped and thought about what the different talents and contributions are between you and the people you are leading? Do you respect and honour that difference. Mostly you are in a leadership position because you have more advanced expertise, more detailed understanding, greater experience or a bigger perspective than the people you are leading. Remember that, your role is to build bridges of understanding so they can succeed in areas you already know and they can give you the insights they have that you need.

10. Face reality & deal with what you find

Do you realise that whatever results you are getting is evidence of your leadership? It's natural to defend yourself and blame others when something doesn't work out. Leaders take full responsibility for the results. Honour your intentions. Ask yourself why that happened? What did you do that contributed to the issues? What could you do differently next time to get a better outcome?

Generally people don't set out to cause problems, they do the best they know how in most situations. Leadership is about enabling people to deliver their best and in the process you discover your best.

About the author: Sarah Cornally trained as an Occupational Therapist. With 17 years experience she specialised in Occupational Rehabilitation & Injury Prevention. For 20 years she has consulted to government, industry & commerce on how to achieve outcomes through people. Her clients include the Who's Who of business. She has presented on many leadership programs including St James Ethics Centre's Sir Vincent Fairfax leadership awards program. Her business, Leading People, advises and coaches leaders on how to shape people's performance to turn their visions into reality. She is National President of the National Speakers Association of Australia (2000-2002). Visit http://www.sarahcornally.com for more information. 

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