“Leadership has always been hard, but it is in fact getting harder,” says Linda Hill. In Forté’s Being the Boss: 3 Imperatives to Being a Great Leader webinar, Linda shared how identifying and closing both performance and opportunity gaps in the workplace are the keys to success.
A performance gap, she says, is the difference from where you are now and where you should be. An opportunity gap is where you are now and where you could be. If you aren’t finding and closing these gaps, especially opportunity gaps, you will never be seen as a game changer.
Linda suggests looking at how much of your time is spent on these gaps. Are you working on both, or neglecting one, and how does that impact the organization?
The three imperatives of leadership “builds organizations that can not only execute but can also innovate,” Linda says. This framework helps you address – and close – the gaps.
By managing yourself, you build the basis for your leadership. You are the instrument to get things done, and self-development is the best method to learn leadership.
Ask yourself how people are experiencing you to find the emotional connection so that your colleagues and direct reports feel mutual trust. “’Why do I trust her if she doesn’t trust me?’ You get these sort of vicious cycles going,” says Linda.
People look for evidence based on your actions that show you are competent and want to do the right thing, so be sure to make it readily available.
How are people experiencing themselves around you? Smart women have to be cautious when talking with others, warns Linda. There is a tendency to make assumptions and miss details if you are thinking too fast, which can reduce empathy with those around you. You could unintentionally talk less to your colleagues because you assume you have the answers, and you lose hard-won trust.
Manage Your Network
Women tend to see networks as politics and easily have an aversion, Linda says. However, because of the diverse nature of any organization, you will find differences of opinion and interdependence, which naturally creates politics. The key, Linda says, is remembering that politics are not always as dramatic as what you watch on TV and necessary to address.
“Managing your network is how you make sure that you work through that reality in a way that’s best for the organization,” Linda says.
Linda suggests drawing a picture of who you are dependent on to get your job done. If it’s overwhelming to look at how many relationships you’re managing, try to delegate appropriately.
Build your networks to figure out who you need to build relationships with to close the performance and opportunity gaps.
Manage Your Team
You can’t manage your team without first managing yourself and managing your network, Linda says, so be sure to spend a good amount of time in each area.
Take the time to evaluate your team on performance, satisfaction, and the ability for the team to learn and adapt together. That togetherness builds the framework to close performance and opportunity gaps, Linda says. Look beyond one on one’s to have your team interact and build their own culture.
Your leadership strategy starts with building your own leadership by setting stretch goals, building trust, finding opportunities for autonomy, increasing your expertise, and growing your network.
“Build your own personal board of directors of people who can meet these social needs for learning, because we are social learners,” Linda says.
This developmental network, Linda says, is the sponsors and mentors you need to champion you for project opportunities and job growth.