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3 Keys to Leadership Development

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Kevin Wolfe has spent the better part of his career working on leadership development. Wolfe owned a business for 22 years, and while it was successful, it was often a miserable setting, he notes. The leadership was poor, and very few conversations happened surrounding why.  

LeadersWay, Wolfe’s new company, was borne out of him becoming a leader for his previous company and his desire to develop a healthy environment. It was when he started to teach these basic principles of effective leadership that LeadersWay came to be, which had its 20-year anniversary last year. 

Below, Wolfe shares a few key areas leaders need to focus on in order to make the transition into leadership as smooth as possible with regard to the both their time and team.  

Be Clear 

One of the biggest mistakes that new leaders make, according to Wolfe, is providing a lack of clear expectations. Explain to the team what you think success looks like for their respective positions, he suggests.

Involving your team has several positive impacts: it builds commitment, it emphasizes that you’re really there to help them, and there will be more overall success for the company if everyone knows what they’re doing. On the flip side, if you don’t involve them, this can create a lot of confusion for people, he says. Your team’s performance may not be up to your expectations, but if you don’t tell them what your expectations are, how will they be able to meet them?

Be Patient  

You really have to take your time implementing change. One mistake that Wolfe says happens too frequently is that new leaders will come in and start trying to make changes immediately. You can’t offer up solutions until you actually know what the problem is, and this takes time. 

In simpler terms, “diagnose before you prescribe,” Wolfe says.  

On the contrary, if you do have to make changes right away because you see the problem, don’t hesitate. If you come into a new position and immediately see something wrong, chances are, your team sees it, too, Wolfe says. Making a change and fixing a pre-existing problem will play to your credibility as an effective leader. It will establish yourself as someone who can really take charge.

Be a Leader, Not a Manager 

According to Wolfe, there is a clear defining line between management and leadership, and it’s something that most people fail to see. Management's job is to keep the operation running.  Their job is to keep efficiency up, keep sales up, keep production up, etc. The job of a true leader is to push those boundaries forward. What can you do to increase those things? Your job isn’t just to keep things moving linearly, it’s also to keep things moving laterally, Wolfe says. 

“Your success is no longer defined by what you do or how you perform,” says Wolfe. 

Your team’s performance is a direct reflection of your skills as a leader. You may have a talented team to begin with, but it’s your job to develop that talent even further, and push their skills to the max.

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