ATD Blog

Your Leadership Skills Are About to Change

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Leadership isn’t always rewarding. It can feel like a bottomless pit of problem solving and adult-sitting. Leadership is exhausting, repetitive, and requires a constant stretch of your emotional and intellectual skills. But it doesn’t mean leadership isn’t rewarding; on the contrary, often the things we struggle with yield the biggest return.

In my upcoming book Management Mess to Leadership Success, I outline 30 challenges to help you become a leader you would follow. The information is organized into three leadership mandates: lead yourself, lead others, and get results. Are you ready to take the challenge?

Lead Yourself Challenge: Demonstrate Humility

Has your lack of humility ever limited your perspective or lessened your influence as a leader? Would you know if it had?

Leaders who fail to demonstrate humility often find themselves leaning toward arrogance and seeking outside validation. They rarely listen to anyone but themselves and thus miss opportunities to learn and course-correct. They often turn conversations into a competition and feel the need to “one-up” others and have the final say.

When you learn to embrace humility, you feel more comfortable because you know who you are. You can let go of the fear of making mistakes or showing weakness. To quote Dr. Stephen R. Covey, “Humble leaders are more concerned with what is right than being right.”

  • Pick an initiative you’re leading or participating in.
  • Identify someone whose perspective on the initiative is different from yours.
  • Schedule time to listen to their perspective. When their opinions differ substantially, exercise the patience and respect not just to listen but to genuinely consider their point of view.
  • What did you learn that might measurably improve the initiative? The relationship? Your leadership style?
  • Become more comfortable—even confident—in not having all the answers yourself. This is a strength, not a weakness.


Lead Others Challenge: Place the Right People in the Right Roles

How many people on your team are in the right roles? Do you need to adjust?

Building a winning team can be one of your greatest legacies as a leader, but it’s rarely recognized or rewarded in real time. In fact, you’ll likely get credit for it only after the team disbands or you’ve moved on.

Successful leaders embrace the art of matchmaking and introducing the right people to the right roles. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Identify someone’s true passions and strengths so you can align those to your business needs.
  • Use questions to assess whether someone could play a different role.
  • Seek others’ ideas about your observations and opinions.
  • Have courageous conversations to address situations around personality, emotional maturity, self-awareness, and so forth. (Too many leaders skip this step.)
  • Exercise the courage to remedy any misalignments.


Get Results Challenge: Create Vision

Have you articulated an inspiring vision so your people choose to volunteer their best?

Creating a vision means defining where your team is going and how they will get there. It’s not unusual for a leader, after a grand pronouncement, to sit back and assume their vision will materialize. In truth, many bold strategies never achieve liftoff because team members were confused, uninspired, or had a “this too shall pass” attitude.

No leader has ever overcommunicated an inspiring vision. Worthy aspirational projects and initiatives typically fail because leadership wrongly thought they had been sufficiently translated throughout the team or organization—or, in some cases, they lost interest themselves.

  • Draft a team vision by answering these questions:
    -- What contributions can our team make to the organization’s mission and vision?

-- If our team could make one extraordinary contribution over the next one to five years, what would it be?

  • Take a moment to remember an inspiring vision that resonated with you. What about it made it personally motivating and powerful?
  • Create a vision for your team by articulating not only the why and the what but the how. The how may well be the key that brings success.

About the Author

Entering his 23rd year with the Franklin Covey Company, Scott Miller serves as the chief marketing officer and executive vice president of thought leadership. He is the host of FranklinCovey sponsored On Leadership with Scott Miller — a weekly leadership webcast, podcast and newsletter that features interviews with renowned business titans, authors and thought leaders and is distributed to more than five million business leaders — as well the weekly radio program Great Life, Great Career with Scott Miller on iHeart Media’s KNRS 105.7. This radio program and podcast provides insight and strategies drawn from FranklinCovey’s leadership principles and from Miller’s career and personal life experience to assist listeners in becoming more effective as business leaders and to improve their personal performance.

Miller leads the strategy, development, and publication of FranklinCovey’s bestselling books and thought leadership, which provide the framework for the company’s world-renowned content and solutions. He is the author of FranklinCovey’s upcoming, Management Mess to Leadership Success releasing in June, 2019 (Mango Media). He is also co-authoring Everyone Deserves A Great Manager, The 6 Critical Practices for Leading A Team, scheduled to be released in October 2019 (Simon & Schuster).

In his previous roles as executive vice president of business development and chief marketing officer, Scott led the global transformation of FranklinCovey’s brand and prior to that as general manager of client facilitation services, Miller worked with thousands of clients and client facilitators in numerous markets in over 30 countries. He has presented to hundreds of audiences across every industry and loves to share his own, unique leadership journey, in today’s culture and world that greatly values unfiltered leadership.

Miller joined the Covey Leadership Center in 1996 as a Client Partner with the Education Division, which focused on serving K-12 schools and higher education. He also served as the General Manager of FranklinCovey’s Central Region for six years in Chicago.

Miller began his professional career in 1992 with the Disney Development Company (the real estate development division of the Walt Disney Company) as a founding member of the development team that designed the new town of Celebration, Florida.

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