4 Essential Leadership Acts

Leadership can sometimes be seen as a great, esoteric concept that only a select few towering
individuals can ever hope to master. While those in leadership roles may see that as job security,
that same unnerving complexity can sometimes prevent others from moving up and growing in their
organizational roles.

The truth of the matter is, leadership is a game of fundamentals, and the fundamentals are learnable.

I have discovered that there are four essential acts that good leaders can – and must – carry out if they
are to have a fighting chance at capturing the hearts and minds of their employees and getting them
to do what needs to be done. If effectively addressed, these four acts can change the perceptions,
attitudes, and behaviors of employees to those needed to drive an organization forward.

Give clear direction.

Why is this so important? Because employees actually have a deep-seated need to know where their
organization is heading, and the specific role they can play to make the achievement of that direction
possible. Indeed, when direction is missing, employees often fill in the blanks on their own. And it
doesn’t take a great leader to tell you how that will end up!

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

According to The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America, having open, frequent, and focused
communication between employees and senior level management is one of the most critical
components of the highest-ranking companies. And yet, a recent survey reported that only half of
employees understand the content of their organization’s communications. Take the case of mission
statements. Practically every organization has one – including yours. But, I’ll bet you can’t tell me what
any of the words mean for your job specifically – or anybody else’s. As leader, it’s your job to make sure
they can.

Lead by example.

A no brainer? Think again. Employees are looking to their leaders for signals and cues in their actions as
to what constitutes acceptable and non-acceptable behavior.

Employees are also looking for leadership acts that inspire them – especially those that demonstrate
how to live the company’s values, such as respect, appreciation, and teamwork. Any resultant imitation,
therefore, becomes more than just flattery.

Measure success, and give rewards on the basis of the organization’s strategy.

It’s a truism of business that you can’t control what you don’t measure. And it’s a truism of psychology

that what gets rewarded gets done. So why claim to be mission driven and yet fail to measure progress
against it? And if there are no rewards for accomplishing the cornerstones of strategy (i.e., the mission,
vision or values), why would anyone want to pay attention to them? Smart leaders make sure their
reward and control systems are aligned with what the organization is trying to accomplish.

They also understand that there is more to rewarding employees than money, stock options, and
bonuses and lavishly praise those who are worthy of receiving it.

By following these four essential acts, you can dramatically improve your leadership skills. This, in turn,
will help you unlock and unleash the incredible potential that exists in almost every person who works
for you.


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