Power Tools For Leadership Success

By Katherine Craig

As an executive coach I have the opportunity to work with a diverse range of individuals at all stages of their leadership development journey. Over the past two decades I’ve created wide-ranging strategies to support my clients as they strive to improve their individual and team performance. While many of those strategies require long-term effort, there are some basic tips and tools that can be implemented for immediate results and I’ve shared some of those tips in my new book, Power Tools for Leadership Success (© Dog Ear Publishing, 2012). Here is an excerpt:

Power Tools—Turning Thought into Action

How many of us have gone to a conference, heard a speaker, or read about an idea that really fired our engine, only to have the inspiration fade away over time? We have every intention of implementing a new plan and changing our leadership strategy, but we get sucked back into the tornado of day-to-day operations, and the ideas blow away. Sometimes, we just don’t know how to begin to turn a concept into action.

That’s what this book is all about. At the beginning of each section, I’ll introduce a new concept that has been shown time and again to impact our ability to lead effectively. At the end of each chapter you’ll find the Power Tools. These are the concrete actions you can take to build your leadership skills.

If you master these tools, you’ve got a great beginning to great leadership. It may sound easy, but it can be extremely difficult. Your work environment may be surprisingly resistant to what seems to you like a brilliant idea. What separates a great leader from all the good leaders out there is the ability to turn thought into action over and over again. In other words, great leadership takes practice.

Be persistent in your pursuit to be a great leader! Constantly move from thought to action, and take your leadership—and your team—from good to great!

But First, the Blueprints

In the pages that follow, I’ll be sharing specific tools I’ve developed based on my 20 years of experience as an executive coach and mentor. These ideas didn’t come to me overnight: I’ve been able to build and refine them over time by maintaining a structure, or blueprint, that guides my progress. I strongly urge you to try this for yourself and give shape to your ideas, as well.

  1. Keep a notebook handy (electronic or otherwise). You have great ideas. When they come to you (mine happen immediately upon waking, so the notebook stays on my bedside table), you can write them down. Write them down as soon as you think of them.page1image24224
  2. page2image1144Review your ideas, at least once a week. You may find that the ideas follow a theme. Ask yourself these questions: Why did I think of this idea? Was it a solution to a problem? Is it a method to “freshen up” a stale operation? How can I apply this idea?
  3. Put rigour to your ideas. What resources will it take to try the idea out? How could I make this work? Your brain may have been tussling with a problem without you even being fully aware! Articulate the thought so that you can easily talk about it. Our brains do a funny trick of not being in partnership with our mouths when it’s time to share our ideas with peers or our boss. Say your idea out loud until it’s on the tip of your tongue and fluent.
  4. Sketch out an implementation plan. Often it’s wise to try the idea on a smaller scale before you go whole hog. I love the concept of a “test drive” approach. It gives everyone a chance to try the car before buying it. Think about seeding some champions around you. They are often the difference between implementation success and failure. Not familiar with seeding champions? Seeding champions refers to the practise of creating a core group of people who will help carry your idea across the organization. You can’t be in every discussion around every corner, but your champions can be, and they’ll carry your message in the positive fashion you desire. The more champions, the better!
  5. Act! Get out of your chair and carry out your implementation plan. Set some time aside in your calendar and do it...now.

If you want to read more, or access links to free resources, you can visit my website www.spearheadexecutivecoaching.com. Be the leader you admire now, and enjoy the journey!

Katherine Craig is CEO and founder of Spearhead Executive Coaching, a dynamic organization dedicated to developing excellent leaders at all levels to create healthy and profitable organizations. She welcomes your comments: katherine@spearheadexecutivecoaching.com.

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