Improving your Leadership Score

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We all have many roles in life.  Maintaining positive balance between professional and personal responsibilities is one of the most challenging tasks we face, as there are times where this ideal balance seems to be slanted, and many times, we place professional responsibilities before our personal accountabilities.

The role I am most proud of (personally and professionally) is the role of husband and father.  I am blessed to have two great children, who both are respectful, athletic, and work hard at school, and an amazing and supportive wife.  One of the lessons we have recently been working on with our children is the concept of not “peaking too early in life”.   I see many people who already consider their best years behind them, whether they are teenagers or employees in their 30’s – 50’s.  We all know of individuals who were great athletes in high school, and feel that life can get no better than being an all-star in sports as a teenager.   I also speak to industry professionals who are resting on their laurels of excelling in their jobs 10 years ago, but have not done much since then. Additionally, managers have certain minimum GPA expectations for potential new hires…GPA’s are relevant for particular jobs in life and I don’t want to downplay the importance of good grades.  For me, the most recent professional experiences of a candidate far outweigh their GPA attainment from when they were 18-23 years old.

As a leader, I know my best years are ahead of me.  When I look back to when I was 18-23 years old, I am disappointed with the person I was.  I lost sight of things that should have been important and made some decisions that I definitely regret.  I am lucky that people had faith in me and helped me to improve as a person.  A life story is created throughout our entire journey on this earth, versus just a couple of years, whether those years are positive or negative.  I work every day to make a positive impact on my family, my work, and my faith. Some days I succeed, some days I fail, but each day brings a new opportunity to do something to lead and benefit others.

Leadership can be judged or scored on a revolving type of system, similar to the current credit scoring system we use to determine the interest rates we earn on a car or home, or the type of credit card we receive.  Credit scores are weighted on your entire history; however FICO and other credit agencies place much more weight on your more recent interactions versus ones which occurred 7 years ago.  A true leadership score should be the same way.  Yes, actions which took place 7-20 years ago are important in shaping the leader you currently are.  However, what are you doing today to grow as a leader and have a positive influence on your employees who rely on you to inspire them?

Similarities between a Leadership Score and a Credit Score:

  • Consistency should be rewarded:  Leadership is an all day and every day responsibility.
  • No delinquencies – handle tough conversations as quickly as your recognition conversations.
  • Leadership scores improve with experience- nobody starts off with a credit score of 850 and there is not a leader out there who was perfect from day 1.
  • Giving an in-experienced person a chance – All leaders have to be provided an opportunity to succeed at a job they have never had, similar to a mortgage company providing a loan to a first time home buyer.
  • People are interviewing for a leadership position at all times, not just when a position is posted.  Credit scores are also built over time…you can’t positively improve your credit score with 1-3 months of responsible behavior.
  • Having multiple experiences and roles adds to your overall leadership score
    • However too many inquires (or jobs) may hurt your overall score.

3 Ways to build a positive leadership score:

  • Be successful with the job you currently have. This should be your #1 priority.  Do not spend too much time focusing on the next step in your career. Many employees are too focused on their next job or promotion, versus being successful at their current role.  Ask your supervisor what you can do to exceed their expectations and document your performance and review regularly.
  • Your team’s feelings are more important than your own.  Great leaders are more concerned about how decisions impact their teams versus how they impact the leader personally. When meeting with members of your team, talk about situations that are affecting them more than you talk about yourself.  Your team will appreciate your listening and being engaged with their priorities versus your own.
  • Avoid cynical leaders.  Cynical leaders know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.  Identify leaders of influence within your organization who understand how to bring new ideas to fruition.  For every new tactic or idea you propose, discuss the value of the initiative in addition to the cost.  Network with a group of people who share your work values and are true multipliers.  For a more robust definition of a what a multiplier is, follow Liz Wiseman on twitter (@LizWiseman) and read her book “Multipliers”…this book is a must read for anyone who reports to me who leads and influences others.

The title of this blog is “Always Learning Leader”…I am constantly learning things from people I interact with and I know that my “peak” years are still ahead of me.  Many times, I am learning more about what not to do from people who make questionable decisions versus modeling positive behaviors from the leaders I respect. Great leaders are constantly learning from all experiences (positive and negative) and increasing their knowledge about how to attract high potential employees to come work with them and motivating them to exceed expectations.  This is a very difficult task to accomplish, but nobody said leadership is easy!!!  However, leading others is the most rewarding, empowering, and humbling job I have ever had.

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