One of the most important components in leadership, if not the most important, is communication. Something every new leader in my area does within the first few months of assuming their leadership position is to write their Leader’s Compass. This was something introduced to our company by a former senior executive, and comes from the book Leader’s Compass by Ed Ruggero. In essence, this puts into writing a leader’s beliefs, expectations and hot buttons for all of their team members to read.
This exercise accomplishes two things. First, it forces leaders to consider, for themselves, exactly what their beliefs about leadership are. It is a startling reality that most young/new leaders have not given this much thought. What do I expect from my people? What standards do I hold myself to? What can my people expect from me? What are the behaviors that cause me the most frustration (hot buttons)? Putting some certainty around these questions helps a leader center herself and start from a position of power and strength.
The second thing this does is provides employee’s explicit instructions for dealing with their new leader. Consider a leader who is highly time-conscious. This leader will react strongly to an associate who comes in to work late regardless of the reason. An employee who has the knowledge of this expectation can make reasonable accommodations to deal with this, including listening to the traffic report in the morning to adjust to traffic conditions, or calling ahead to let the boss know they will be late.
This has an added benefit of providing an opportunity for a staff and its leader to engage in open conversation about expectations. Anything we can do to open up that dialog, the better our teams performance will be as we will all be moving in the same direction.
I encourage everyone to take a look at the book, and to write your own Leader’s Compass as soon as possible. Here’s mine! Leader’s Compass.