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Leadership arrows in your quiver

Recently, I was talking with Rick Davis, who writes a sales column for LBM Journal, at the LBM Strategies Conference 2023 held in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were talking about how leaders need to give salespeople tools to use when they call on their customers. I called it “arrows in their quiver.” Rick responded by pointing out that similarly, leaders need to also have arrows in their own quiver to be effective.

So after giving each other advice on what the other guy’s column was based on, we decided that this month we would both write within our own areas of expertise about the arrows needed to ensure success.

Good leaders possess an array of essential traits that empower them to hit the mark and guide their teams toward success. These leadership arrows, when honed and employed strategically, can be the catalyst for positive change and growth within a team. The arrows that a good leader needs can be developed over time and carried with each team.

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Accountability: As a leader you’re accountable for your team’s overall success … and failures. The best way to foster an environment of accountability is to lead by example. Great leaders hold themselves accountable while providing clear goals and expectations for the team. You get to share in the successes, but you have to take ownership of the misses too. Every good leader knows that a miss is an opportunity for growth.

Humility: Hold your ego in check. Humble leaders empower their teams, trusting them to make decisions and share in the successes, while leaving the leader to take ownership of failures. Don’t look to have your own words or actions define you. Let your results, and those of your team, speak to your abilities and success.

Willingness to let others fail up: Continued success breeds confidence. Failure imparts wisdom. People need a healthy dose of both in order to grow and be successful. As a leader, you need to create environments for people to safely fail and learn from it.

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Trust: Like a forest, trust takes years to grow, but it can be destroyed in a day. Leading a successful team is about building relationships, and all successful relationships are based on trust. Fostering a safe place for growth and failure is key to continued success. As a leader, you need to create a safe environment for people to fail and grow from it. To continue growing as a leader, it’s important to learn through provided resources and others’ experiences. Seek insight into personality traits: You can’t get to know and understand people until you know and understand yourself. Personality assessments can offer insight into how your team works best, especially when working together.

Enhance your emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence is what keeps your aim steady even when the winds are blowing. As a leader, you need to be the calm in the storm, handling one’s emotions and learning how to pick up the team when things look bleak. Likewise, not getting too enamored with a short term success. Keep an even keel in all situations.

Support in recruiting and hiring team members: Having access to finding good people and hiring them at a competitive wage is just as important as their onboarding experience. Ensure the process is seamless to continue building their excitement in being part of the team.

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Provide opportunities to take chances, and fail: Taking risks is great until things go sideways and everyone goes looking for a scapegoat. Encouraging people to be creative, stretch their limits, and even occasionally fail, reminds them that it is okay to take a swing and miss. This makes your team want to take more swings.

And last, but most important of all, a good leadership column shares all the mistakes the author, and sometimes others have made, so the reader doesn’t have to make the same mistakes themselves.

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