“If there’s anything I’ve learned about leadership, it’s that little things make the most difference.”
This from a seasoned manager who says he’s continually surprised at how things he deems as “no big deal” mean the world to those he leads.
How does a leader determine what’s “big” or “small” in their team members’ eyes? In a world jam-packed with shifting customer expectations and no-room-for-error-deadlines, leaders may let a few “small” details slip. Know this: it may not seem like a big deal to you, but others are paying attention.
Trust is a fragile thing.
Take promises, for example – how many promises do you make each day? Do you believe some are more important than others? When you make a promise to someone, no matter how small you think it is I guarantee you someone else thinks it’s important. If you don’t follow through, people begin to doubt your commitment – to them, to the project, to your ethics. People who don’t keep promises are people who aren’t taken seriously.
Here are five ways that your lack of follow-through might make you a joke in your team’s eyes:
1. Always late to meetings. Sure, sometimes it can’t be avoided. But chronic lateness says you don’t have your act together.
2. Over-committing. When you consistently fall short of your commitments, you credibility suffers. Learn how to say “no” and increase your integrity.
3. Blowing off meetings. If you don’t think you should be there in the first place, have the courtesy to tell the meeting requester why you are declining the meeting invite.
4. The deadlines you set apparently mean nothing. If you don’t intend to enforce a deadline, then don’t set one in the first place. When people bust their butt to meet a deadline, they want to know it was worth the effort.
5. Performance reviews are late. Nothing says “I don’t care” like a performance review discussion that’s been rescheduled three times because you haven’t made the time to put something into writing.
Leaders who are “habitual offenders” when it comes to letting these “little things” slip through the cracks undermine their effectiveness. Take a hard look at the commitments you’ve made for the next two weeks. For those commitments you know you won’t meet, create a plan NOW for how to address it. You might want to use the Great DANE method for sorting your commitments. The key is to have a plan in place for handling those tasks. Saying “I’m sorry” after the fact will only be acceptable if it’s a rare occurrence.
Remember, it’s the “little” things that add up to your leadership effectiveness.
Image credit: krisonealphotography / 123RF Stock Photo
Karin Hurt says
A great list. The other issue is that these “small” habits become part of your reputation… and you begin behind in trust with a new team because of your reputation. The good news its that leaders who are diligent about getting the small stuff right can be refreshing to their teams.
Jennifer Miller says
What a fantastic observation about how the small daily actions become part of your reputation. So true!
Very nice post. These are important points to keep in mind, no matter what your title is. In order to truly be a leader, you need followers. Not many people will follow anyone who consistently make this list part of their regular actions. Folks look to leaders and want to depend on them and see consistency. And, you are so right in that it is the small things that make all the difference in the world. Anyone can rise to an emergency, but it’s the day to day interactions and relationships that really count.
Jennifer Miller says
Thanks for sharing a real-life example of the consequences of over-committing.