Lessons Learned from a Corner Office: 6 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader

Most would agree that the past couple of years have been very unusual in the business world. Conflict and uncertain times have a way of making you question a lot of things that – only a short time before – felt certain and safe. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on a trait that can take a significant hit during uncertainty: confidence in leading. After all, fluctuating profit margins, sales volume and KPIs can alter your daily operating protocol. This makes it much harder to remain positive and confident when managing others and their work.

So, what does it take to rediscover your confidence in leading and making a positive impact? I’ve recently found some great tips I strongly connected with from Money by Helen Rothberg, where a few simple steps could help you reengage with your staff and lead confidently again.

1) Sharing is key.

Looking for a solution to a work challenge? Discovery comes from talking to the people who work inside the company, inquiring beyond defined job roles. Go ask a question. The first five people will lead to others who lead to others who lead to the weaving of the real story.

Share what you know. People believe that knowledge is power, so they tend to hold it close. If the people within different work groups were to share what they know with each other, they would come up with a similar conclusion.

2) Brilliance resides where you least expect it.

While I like to think I have a good sense of what’s happening on a day-to-day basis, I consistently find that every staff member has something interesting that they’re working on or learning about.

Insight and understanding resides with people in roles different from yours. Therefore, staying within your insulated worlds can limit you at the workplace; find opportunities in other departments to use the breadth of what you can do.

3) Figure out how to innovate – take a risk.

Great clients understand that big success hinges on big thinking, big insight and big ideas. With big thinking comes more risk but the potential for greater rewards. Here at Ramey, we encourage our staff to take risks, get outside their comfort zone and explore new creative territories. And when we encourage risk-taking from each other and promote it with our clients, our work will open up new opportunities.

Companies that are market leaders tend to be attached to what brought them to that space, believing that what they have always done will always work. They get stuck. They don’t know how to look outside of their habits to discover what will make them successful in the future.

Everyone at work should know that the skills, knowledge and talent that got them where they are won’t necessarily keep them there. Continue to learn and innovate products, services and self.

4) No one is perfect, and that’s a good thing.

Sometimes a decision to go in a certain direction is based on the information at hand. And the outcome may fizzle. Recognize the mistake and take action, without finger-pointing.

Getting it wrong is your greatest opportunity to getting it right the next time. Don’t let conformity keep you from bouncing back after a setback. Speak your piece. And if you are wrong, learn from it and move on quickly.

5) Leave your desk.

One of my favorite things to do is to take a walk around the office and talk to coworkers. Senior management can learn a lot by listening to informal conversation among employees in a relaxed setting.

Engage in more at your company than just your office. Join think tanks, volunteer at organizations the company supports, go to lunch with a coworker or manager. You never know where concerns and good ideas can be discovered and travel upward.

6) Your problem is not what you think it is.

The root of a problem is not always obvious. Even if there’s agreement in the conference room, such solidarity can lead to interfering with something that might not be broken while what is broken gains momentum. For example, decreases in sales volume or profit margins are not always a sales or account management problem; sometimes it’s a content creation or message delivery issue. Look deeper into a problem by talking with your peers across the organization. The extra effort can yield important findings impactful to your company and you.

Now get started.

Build yourself back up, put yourself back out there, interact with others and become aware of your surroundings. You stand to gain a lot – and so do others – by yielding surprising results.

It’s a new year – go walk the halls and get started right now!


Helen Rothberg is a professor in the school of management at Marist College and consultant to CEOs and entrepreneurs. This story adapted, originally appeared on Money

   Jim Garrison – COO/Partner   

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