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Leadership: One Easy Thing You Can do Right Away to Improve Your Results

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. - Theodore Hesburgh



People who want to lose weight search for a magic program that will let them lose weight without changing how they eat or whether they exercise. Late-night infomercials tout systems that will turn you into a millionaire overnight. We crave magical solutions that are quick and easy and produce meaningful results.

Well, I have not found any magic diet programs, and I never saw a get-rich-quick program that worked, but I know one "magic" thing you can do to improve your results as a leader. 

It does not require any special equipment. You do not have to take an expensive seminar. It will not take you a long time to learn. 

Here it is: Show up.

Sounds simple, right? How could something so simple produce an improvement in your leadership? 

Show up, so your arrival will not be an event. If you only show up to deliver big news, the people who work for you will erect their defensive shields as soon as you appear on the horizon. 

Those defensive shields make communication challenging. But if you show up, your appearance is a normal part of how the world works. The guards stay down, and communication can happen.

Show up to learn about your people. Reports and statistics will not get the job done. It would help if you saw your people in action to understand them. Show up, and you will learn about what they do well and poorly.

Show up so your people can learn about you. The best way for them to do that is by seeing you in person. 

Show up so you can tell people what is important. You should have crafted one or two simple messages about the mission and your people's part in achieving it. Show up, and you get more opportunities to share those messages.

Show up so you can make minor course corrections. Your life as a leader will be easier if you make minor course corrections instead of a few extensive course corrections. 

Remember, most effective supervision happens in the cracks in the system. Show up a lot, and you have opportunities to make things right.

Show up a lot to learn about the real world. The real world does not come to you in your office, neatly formatted into reports. If you want an unfiltered look at reality, get out of your office and around the people who work for you.

But how much is "a lot?"  The best answer to that question is: "More than you're doing right now."

Make it a priority to get out among the people who work for you. Do not just swoop in, then swoop out, either. 

You must stay and watch, listen, and communicate to get benefits from showing up. It would help if you made every encounter with someone who works for you an opportunity to share, coach, encourage, and correct.

Do not expect instant trust. If you have not been showing up much, your people will not trust you when you suddenly start acting differently. It will take time for your behavior to change their expectations. Hang in there. The benefits are worth it.

Do not be a leader that causes an unsafe environment by making it the employees’ job to trust you, to make it their job to show up to you. Your job as a leader is to create a safe environment, a creative place for growth, opportunities for your employees, and the visibility of showing up. We will give you those micro conversations that build into a macro result. Leaders who do not show up or are not leaders; are dictators and checklist shovelers. They are out of touch, blind, and trying to lead. Showing up will give you vision, build trust, and help your team excel.

Showing up a lot is easy to grasp, but you must make it a habit. That takes time, a month at least, but more. And it takes effort and attention. You will first need to schedule your "showing up" time.

Showing up a lot will not help you lose weight or turn you into a millionaire overnight. But it just might be the one "magic" behavior that will make you a better leader.

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