Leadership Lessons: Inspiring through Actions
BRIANA WHITE, M. ED. | BY-LA PROGRAM MANAGER
Great leaders don’t become great overnight. They get that way by making progress day by day, year by year, over the course of their careers. You have to strive to become a little bit better at leadership everyday and we must lead from a framework of aligning our supervision to our organization’s purpose. The Supervisor’s overarching role is to communicate organizational needs and guide staff’s performance by providing support and feedback, identifying professional development needs and facilitating the relationship between employees and the organization so that both are successful. So what does a realistic picture of that look like?
The first thing leaders in an organization must do is recognize our own needs as staff before making assumptions and providing guidance to others. As long as you are in a leadership role, you are on a course of expansion; and that path is all about improvement and relationship building. Here are some qualities I believe a strong leader should have:
- Honesty - do not lie. If there is something you don’t know, say so. If someone asks you something that you cannot share, say so. Being dishonest creates an atmosphere of mistrust.
- Good Communication Skills - communicate expectations to staff in a collaborative way. Affirm or correct assumptions and discuss disagreements without shame or attack.
- Strengths-based Leadership - encourage staff to build strengths by acquiring skills and knowledge that can enhance their talents so that they can be applied to specific tasks.
- Vision - know the organization’s overall vision and be able to assist staff with thinking past the work that is right in front of them. Help them to be more forward-thinking.
- Accountability - say what you are going to do and follow through. Also, acknowledge when you haven’t done what you said you would.
- Unbiased Support - provide the necessary support to all staff without bringing your personal preferences or relationships into the picture.
I also mentioned earlier that a good leader should align their supervision to their organization’s purpose. Hopefully your organization has a mission, vision, priorities, goals, strategy, etc. With these in mind, you can align your supervision to the organization in several ways such as:
- Setting Expectations (have a mutual understanding)
- Make expectations clear during staff orientation
- Set goals according to work plans
- Review job descriptions
- Assign projects
- Create professional development plans for direct reports
- Providing Regular Communication (this should be ongoing)
- Coach and support staff you supervise
- Discuss projects and deadlines with your staff, don’t leave them in the dark
- Identify and solve problems as they arise
- Review work plans regularly to make sure you’re staying on track of your deliverables
- Regularly Conducting Performance Reviews (there shouldn't be surprises during reviews)
- Discuss organizational goals - especially if they have been revised
- Set annual goals
- Revise work plans as needed
- Discuss professional development plans
- Provide quarterly and/or annual performance reviews
A third point in aligning supervision to purpose is communicating effectively. Effective communication is the key to providing support and feedback, and facilitating the working relationship. You need to put collaborative communication into practice, which means: being self-aware; using “I” statements; talking openly about disagreements without shaming or attacking; listening with your full attention; being fully present; letting go of nonessential distractions; recognizing intent and impact; pinpointing sources of contention; and adhering to confidentiality. Lastly, make sure that employees understand your communications. All of these elements of effective communication hold true in written communication as well. And remember, always be a shining example of positivity and show your appreciation to your staff and their efforts.
Great leaders inspire through their actions as much as through their words!