In today’s ultra-competitive businesses, one of the most challenging things for middle and upper level leaders is to get leadership lessons across quickly and effectively to front line supervisors, especially while they are in the thick of their hectic day to day activities.
Sometimes it’s hard to get their full attention for 10 minutes, much less the time it would take to do a full-scale training session.
What to do?
I faced this challenge myself over my years in the executive suite, and came up with some quick-hitting, one line lessons I would constantly pass along to the front line leaders nearly every chance I got.
And I can tell you, after some experimentation, these were the 6 most effective:
- “Teach, don’t tell” – This is the hardest lesson for front-liners, because they are so often rolling up their sleeves and doing jobs themselves. A good alternative line would be “Always Be Teaching”. And one more thing – it’s OK to repeat yourself while you are doing it, many times over.
- “Be an Enabler, not a Disabler” – Another tough message to get across is the effectiveness of empowerment; a leader’s actions must “free” their staffs to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, and not shackle them to ineffective micromanagement.
- “Don’t Do Second Things First” – It’s so easy to skip that big, hairy, and difficult task at the top of front line leader task lists (like big process or policy changes, for instance). Doing second things first only delays real progress.
- “If You Are Not Going Forward, You’re Going Backwards” – This one HAS to absolutely, positively get out there, and be absorbed quickly, by front-liners. Standing still is not progress. Inertia is our enemy. Push forward, always, and relentlessly.
- “Bad News is Good News” – This one is always a head-scratcher at first. Bad is good? Huh? Here’s the lesson – if you are leading well, your staff is feeding you BOTH good and bad news. So from this standpoint, bad IS good, because otherwise you’re finding out about things you need to address when it’s too late to do much about it.
- “The Road to Greatness Is Paved With Mistakes Well Handled” – I love this one. Yes, love it. Because yes indeed, we sure do make mistakes. Lots of ’em. But what will separate the wheat from the chaff is HOW these mistakes get handled. They can solidify customer relationships, create new opportunities, and teach valuable lessons, just to name a few of the benefits.
Time is always at a premium, so give these “one-liners” a try with your front-liners, mix them with a liberal dose of your own inspiration and passion, and watch what happens.