There are over 30,000 leadership books available on Amazon. Countless articles, podcasts, and keynotes are created every year that are jam-packed with principles of leadership. However, only a small number of those resources actually answer one of the most pressing questions facing any leader: what should I do next?
According to a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, eight out of ten adults believe that being honest, intelligent, and decisive are essential leadership traits. (Pew Research Center) Team members expect their leaders to be able to make a decision and take an action step to be an effective leader.
Our InteGREAT team compiled our top ten action steps for leaders looking to implement in building an integrity-driven leadership reach. Note: these are not necessarily sequential in order; some steps may need to be prioritized ahead of others depending on your unique leadership context.
Interested in a free tool that we use weekly at InteGREAT?
Check out the “Start/Stop/Continue” List Here
01 | Define a Common Purpose.
A mission statement can sometimes become nothing more than a placard greeting for office visitors. “Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence.” Those words were the motto of the scandal-sunk Enron Corporation. More companies are rewriting their mission statements as a single-purpose statement. What’s your purpose?
You as the leader need to help define your organization’s common purpose. What captures the vision of your organization in a clear and compelling way? What is the one purpose that you can align and engage your team around?
If you have a mission statement, you need to ruthlessly evaluate how well it embodies your organization’s purpose. Does every one of your team members know what they can do to help fulfill that purpose?
If you don’t have a mission or purpose statement, now is your chance to create one with your senior leadership influencers. When your team embraces a common purpose, you can make the shift from activity to accomplishment.
02 | Pursue shared goals together.
As the saying goes, “Goals are dreams with deadlines attached.” Goals give your team a rallying point to start working together in the same direction. Goals also give your team a benchmark for evaluating whether you’re on track or missing the mark.
Create monthly, quarterly, and annual goals for your team. Set goals that are S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. If you’re a restaurant, a S.M.A.R.T. goal would be saying that you want to sell 185 flame-broiled cheeseburgers in the month of October.
Write down your S.M.A.R.T. goals and post them around your organization. Identify specific tactics that can help you achieve your goals. Refer to your goals throughout your time frame. Make adjustments where needed and keep your team pursuing the same goals together.
03 | Track your results with an established Team Scorecard.
How is your team performing when it comes to your shared goals? What’s measured can be changed. What can be changed can be improved. It’s always helpful to track your team’s results with a weekly scorecard to measure your progress along the way. This allows your team to see how well your efforts are achieving the results you want over time.
04 | Recruit and select Talent based on character and skills.
Building a team takes time and energy. Rebuilding your team because you didn’t hire the right person in the first place takes even more time and energy and causes frustration. The team with the most talent usually wins, but sometimes it’s the right talent in the right places that make a greater impact.
Great leaders create a clear profile of who they are looking for and then go after the best. Learn to master the art of recruiting and talent selection. Build your team’s bench of leadership talent based on two questions:
- Does this person have the character to be a good leader?
- Do they also have the skill set to be a good leader?
Start by asking yourself these questions about your current team. It may mean you need to have a hard conversation with a long-standing team member. It’s better to make the change now than wishing you did in the future.
05 | Clarify your team’s roles.
The initial question to ask is “Who does what?” The better question is “Who should do what?” It’s up to you as a leader to determine whose skill set is the best fit for every area of your operations. Every organization is unique so establishing clear roles, written responsibilities, and understood expectations for individuals, teams, and even yourself gives your organization the best opportunity for maximum effectiveness.
One of the best action steps a leader can take at times is to review job roles and responsibilities with individual team members. Are they happy or frustrated with their current role? What parts of their job bring them the most joy, and what brings them the most angst? Be prepared to redefine a team member’s job role and responsibility to best fit their fulfillment and your organization’s needs.
06 | Build a Cross-Functional team.
InteGREAT is built on integrity (Inte-) and greatness (GREAT). For a team to be great, they need the integrity to know what needs to change. Everything rises and falls on leadership, which is why the first part of building a cross-functional team is to examine your own capacity. Use the “Start / Stop / Continue” list from InteGREAT to evaluate your own disciplines. This list will help you know what you need to:
- Start doing to be a better leader;
- Stop doing that doesn’t work or creates roadblocks for your team;
- Continue doing that’s already working well.
This only works if you’re honest with yourself. Once you’ve seen your results, ask your senior leadership influencers for their feedback on your evaluation. You need to be vulnerable with your team and let them speak into what your strengths and weaknesses are.
The best teams in the world are made up of individuals with a complimentary set of attributes. Take individual team members through the “Start / Stop / Continue” list together to gauge how their personality, background, talent, and skill set can be used to maximize their impact.
07 | Develop Individual Skills and Team Skills.
What does each individual on your team do well? And, what does your team do well as a collective unit? Individual skill gaps need to be addressed and closed. Team skills need to be realized and coached towards success. Solving problems, making decisions, achieving goals, and resolving conflict are just four of the many team skills that a team needs to master for high performance levels.
Your own skills as a leader will set the ceiling on your team’s potential. If you’re going to develop as a leader, you have to start with being honest about your own skill set. You need to evaluate where your skills are before you can start working to improve them.
08 | Lead valuable meetings.
“I hate meetings. Meetings are pointless and boring. We never get anything done and they’re a huge waste of time.” If you’ve heard these types of sentiments, chances are they were caused by leaders who didn’t fully understand the value of a meeting. Great meetings happen when high-performance teams set goals, solve problems, hold each other accountable, celebrate ‘wins’, and monitor performance.
- Does this meeting need to be in-person? If not, would a conference call be a better use of everyone’s time, including travel? Would an email be more effective?
- Guard your guest list to the meeting. Too many meetings have the wrong people in them – people who aren’t in a position to contribute to the conversation. Know who needs to be in the room with you and make sure they’re on the invite list.
- Set a start time and a stop time for your meeting.
- If you have an hour blocked out for a recurring meeting, consider whether you can run a more efficient version of the meeting in thirty minutes.
- Have an agenda and send it out ahead of time. If people need to contribute, share your expectations with enough heads-up time to prepare.
09 | Solve problems as a team.
How many times have you been tempted to fix a problem yourself… this week? Leadership is not one person trying to fix everything on their own. Leadership relies on team members to accomplish a vision together. Your team needs to be united in purpose and united in problems. Your team’s finest hour may be when everyone comes together and collectively uses their brains, experiences, and creativity to take on a challenge.
10 | Build an authentic community for your team.
You have the privilege of leading people from all backgrounds and interests to become a unified team. The best teams understand and pursue the power of “we” over me. Growing together as a team means intentionally building trust, honesty, and loyalty among team members. When teams share, serve, celebrate, grieve, love, learn, and grow together, they turbo-charge their performance.
The Chess Not Checkers leadership program from InteGREAT is about building a team that’s honest, vulnerable, and tight-knit through whatever challenges you may face that goes beyond your time at work together. Integrity-inspired leadership is at the heart of impact leadership. It’s the same approach to leadership that’s built world-changing organizations like Chick-fil-A, Advocare, and more.