We are all forgetful sometimes. My son was very unhappy when I forgot to send snack in for his class on my scheduled week. There was even that time that I drove halfway to work with my slippers on… but there are things that a leader absolutely cannot afford to forget. In order to honor their team, lead with excellence, and remain credible as a leader, there are 5 things I believe a leader must never forget.
1. Leaders cannot afford to forget to communicate.
As a leader, you are constantly moving forward, thinking and working toward what is next for your team. That means you may be focusing on something that your team isn’t even aware of yet! It’s a tension to manage – continuing to push forward behind the scenes while your team is carrying out today’s plan. Communication is the key to making this successful. When you consistently, clearly and repeatedly communicate, your team becomes unified toward reaching your vision. (For more on communication, read 5 Communication Essentials for Every Leader.)
2. Leaders cannot afford to forget their integrity.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a little fib, or a “half-truth” won’t hurt anyone. As a leader, you must remember that your ability to lead is determined by your character. With integrity, you will have the opportunity to influence your teams in a very positive way. Without integrity, you lose the right to speak into the lives of those you lead. You can demand, force and intimidate people into action as a person with no integrity, but you cannot lead. Leadership is reserved for those who are truthful, honest and trustworthy. Integrity is not only about who you are in public, but also about who you are when no one is watching.
3. Leaders cannot afford to forget their promises.
This goes hand in hand with being a person of integrity. If you don’t follow through on your word, you will soon find yourself with no one to lead. People will follow someone who does what he says. They will trust you and allow you the privilege of pouring into them. If you know you aren’t going to be able to keep a promise, see #1 – Communicate! We all know that sometimes things don’t work out the way we intend. By simply being honest and communicating with your team what wasn’t able to happen, you will continue to build their trust. If you promise to deliver something by the end of the work day, make sure that happens, or make sure you communicate that you’re not going to reach your deadline. If you find yourself over-promising and under-delivering, it may be time to step back and ask yourself why you feel the need to make those promises.
4. Leaders cannot afford to forget birthdays.
Did you chuckle a little when you read that one? It may seem like a trivial thing, but in reality, remembering birthdays can make you a stand-out leader. Have you ever gotten a birthday card from your leader? How did it make you feel? I receive a birthday card from my Pastor every year, and I love that he takes the time to honor me on that special day. Remembering birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates dhows that you see your team as real people – more than just cogs in the machinery of your organization. A handwritten card means you were thinking about that person – building credibility and relational equity with your team.
5. Leader cannot afford to forget that they are the culture-setter.
Last, but certainly not least important, a leader must realize that she sets the tone for her team. Is there something about the dynamic of your team that drives you nuts? Guess what – you, as the leader, are the one who has the power to change it! Not by decreeing change, but by modeling change yourself. If you want a tight-knit, trusting team, you must invest in your people and prove to be trustworthy. Whatever you want your culture to be, you must learn to live it out yourself first. (For more on culture, read Getting Over the Wall: Team Culture Matters.)
With a sometimes overwhelming number of roles, responsibilities, and skills you have to excel at as a leader, it can be very easy to forget things. These five areas are the ones you as a leader cannot afford to forget.