Along with my trusty associate Dustin Dellinger, Milk Street Marketing’s Director of Client Services, we recently completed an online course in Leadership Communication through The Rutgers School of Communication and Information’s Professional Development Studies. It is an in depth four week program consisting of video lectures, leadership self assessments, TedTalk video reviews, and a discussion forum for interaction with the other participants. It was extremely engaging, and I leave it with a variety of tools to help me grow as a leader.
If I had to pick just one take away from the course, it’s that we as leaders must be in a continual state of self assessment and skill refinement. There are all things we do naturally well as leaders, but we must also learn the full spectrum of traits and characteristics associated with great leadership.
Below are the leadership best practices that I have developed based on my own experiences as well as the online course.
Ron Bauman’s Leadership Best Practices
Do as I do, not as I say.
Leading by example is by far the most important aspect of moving a company, organization or small group of friends in the right direction. This is something I have believed very strongly in for the entirety of my professional career, and is certainly something that I strive to maintain within myself as a leader. I want to be the best I can be, make the right decisions and let the people I lead consciously choose to follow. My actions, behaviors and character are what they should follow, rather than what I say. What I say is less important than what I do. I want my people to challenge me. Don’t follow blindly. Ask questions. Develop your own opinions, because they are extremely valuable to the group and its higher purpose. This is how I will lead us to greatness.
Understand what people want.
This seems simple enough, and you must first start by listening to them properly. But to truly understand what people want, you must also comprehend what is going on with them physically and psychologically. Be sure to know what drives them, where they have been and where they want to go in life. To do this, we must know the right questions to ask, how to ask them, and be more focused on what people are communicating to me in their responses, both verbally and non-verbally.
Be the leader you see in yourself.
I believe that in order to be an effective and authentic leader, you must have a certain level of self-respect and awareness. Furthermore, a great leader must be confident, poised and on a positive ethical compass. In order to be great, you must constantly be self-evaluating and educating. Employ positive visualization in your life and professional activities. Take time while in solitude to reflect on how you want to project yourself. Imagine how things might go prior to an important meeting and rehearse various scenarios internally to determine your desired outcomes.
The ability to be flexible and to adapt to the ever-changing world around us separates the good from the great leaders in the world today. Technological advancements and the rise of social media, in conjunction with the local, regional and global political climate have made for an interesting state of affairs. As leaders, we must keep ourselves educated about trending topics, and use our past experiences to guide our futures. Great leaders have the ability to recognize when something is not working, and they know when to cut their losses. Even when it means admitting that they themselves were wrong, great leaders find a way to right the ship while keeping everyone on board.
Own your decisions.
Nobody respects a flip-flop. Choose a course of action and be confident in your decisions. However, this should not be confused with an inability to adapt to the changes in our world or taking other peoples thoughts and opinions into consideration. Great leaders know how to balance these two behaviors, and they use their instinct to determine that balance. To be an effective leader, you must truly believe that you are doing what is right, and in alignment with your organization’s higher purpose.