January 30, 2018 // 2 Comments

10 Fundamental Leadership Practices

guy in suit with books stacked to look like his head

10 Fundamental Leadership Practices That Will Make You A Better Leader

Holy crap there are too many classes, books, video, and theories about how to be an effective leader. If you read even 10% of all of the leadership books that get published each year, you would never do anything else. These days it seems that everyone has an opinion on what techniques work and which don’t.

At The Center For Agile Leadership we are always experimenting with different ways to lead in order to build the best possible organizations. We’ll forever be experimenting and evolving our leadership program, but below is our list of the 10 most fundamental leadership practices that always rise to the top. We use every one of these fundamental ideas in our own company.

              1. Dream Statement
                A dream statement is exactly that, it is a tangible, written statement of where you want your organization, your team, or your life to go. For us, our “Braintrust 2020” dream statement is our guiding light to where we want to go as a company. By having this in a written format, all of our team can reference the document, understand exactly where we are going, and make day-to-day decisions based on achieving our long-term dream.
              2. Hugging And Spanking In The Moment
                When you hug and spank (positive and negative feedback) in the moment, your team gets instant feedback. Good work is rewarded in the moment so that it could be repeated and bad work is caught early enough to be corrected. We don’t do annual or even quarterly performance reviews. In fact we don’t do any performance reviews at all. Instead, we focus on giving feedback in the moment.
              3. Praise Sandwich
                While it is sometimes criticized for muddling the message, we believe the benefits of this technique are twofold: it softens the impact of the criticism or corrective feedback, and, given that a leader is probably more comfortable with praising the team member, leaders find it easier to discuss problems if the discussion begins and ends with praise.
              4. Value-Based LeadershipWhen you make your values actionable they come alive and become the foundation for your organization’s culture. We run our organization with something called the Entrepreneurial Operating System® or EOS for short. EOS’s creator, a guy named Gino Wickman, came up with a clever way to rate performance based on alignment with values. Once a quarter, my leadership team and I meet somewhere in the world to hold our quarterly strategy session. We look at each team member one-by-one and ask relevant questions to try and assess how they are doing with each of our core values.
              5. Issue Resolution With The IDS Technique
                IDS stands for Identify, Discuss, and Solve we use this technique for 60 minutes every week in order to resolve key issues affecting our company. This quick and easy format guides us to ask the right questions and allows us to address challenges in an efficient and effective manner.
              6. Scorecard/One Number
                Metrics often get misused and manipulated. Instead of complicated metrics that don’t actually affect our bottom line, we use a fundamental set of metrics to let our team members know how they are performing and how we are doing as a company. Each team member has one number that they are ultimately responsible for, which simplifies everything and provides crystal clear priorities.
              7. One-on-ones/Coaching
                Group sessions and team meetings are great for collaboration style conversations, but what we have come to realize over the years is that one-on-one time with team members is critical. One-on-one sessions (coaching, mentoring, or even just chatting) are a critical opportunity to form deeper relationships with each team member. One-on-one conversations is where almost all great insights about our company begin.
              8. Empowerment
                Using the onion exercise, your goal as a leader is to delegate the outer ring items to those on your team. As an Agile leader, an even higher goal is to share your onion with your team and let them choose what they take off your outer ring. When done successfully, this can be a win-win situation for everyone. You remove items that drain your energy while others on your team get to learn a new skill and add to their responsibilities.
              9. Kanban/Task Board
                We run our whole company using electronic Kanban Boards through Trello. One critical key to great leadership is the ability to make informed decisions quickly. Kanban allows us to visually see everything that is happening in our company (what we’re working on, what’s stalled, what’s finished) in a glance. It’s an amazing tool for organizing your workflow and for monitoring your organizations’ progress.
              10. Trust
                No list of leadership fundamentals would be complete without trust. Basically, without trust between leaders and their teams, all other tools fall apart. Trust is built on relationships, proof of performance, and shared responsibility. For us, we ask one simple question to gauge our level of trust- would you fold your team’s underwear (or would they fold yours). This silly question drills right into the heart of trust.




2 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    These are simple, yet powerful practices. Thanks for sharing concepts that have a direct and immediate benefit.

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