In order to be an effective leader you need to make yourself HIGHLY VISIBLE in a myriad of different ways and use that exposure to reinforce what you believe in, what direction you believe your firm or team should be headed, and how you intend to get there. As a leader, you have at your disposal a wide variety of “trivial tools” embedded in your daily message sending and receiving activities that can be used to energize and influence.
SPENDING TIME: Nothing speaks louder about what is important than where and how you choose to spend your time, which is not a matter of chance. You make choices daily about what to do and with whom. From that meeting on business development issues to the selection of which particular performance measures to track on a regular basis, those of your choices made over time, send signals to your colleagues about what you believe to be really important. Start spending 30 to 40% of your time on your most important strategic priority. Book up your calendar for the next quarter with activities that demonstrate your interest in and concern for that priority. AND, consider turning your colleague’s eyes to new horizons with a formal system of “Strategic Forums” designed to formally force regular discussions on key issues facing your team.
BEING HANDS ON: One of the enduring questions, a subject of endless analysis, is how a large firm can best monitor operations spread over many geographical locations. One firm leader I know reduces all of those elaborate mechanisms to plain, old fashion face-to-face contact. He visits each of thirteen offices four times a year, meeting with different groups and support staff. What is your plan for providing hands-on leadership?
GIVING RECOGNITION: Find those professionals who are doing something that you wish more of your people were doing and hold them out as models of moving in the right direction. Let everyone get a clear idea of what behavior you most admire. Effective leadership concentrates on reinforcing and rewarding actions consistent with stated direction. “What receives recognition is clearly what is valued.” People are keenly attuned to what is accorded recognition, even the most trivial manifestations.
AGENDA MANAGEMENT: Every leader holds numerous meetings, and every meeting has an agenda, whether written or unwritten. The cumulative content of these agendas clearly signals priorities and concerns. The conscious management of your agenda, and your input into any group meeting agenda, is another powerful signaling device. Also, those items that get your swift and detailed follow-up will always be perceived by people to be of real value. And do not ever forget that the specific words used and the pattern of questions you ask, have an enormous impact on your team’s focus. You need to manage those patterns. People will just naturally read meaning into them. Why not target for what you want?