Your team can’t read your mind

Successful leadership requires spelling out expectations.

You may know what you want to achieve this year, but does your staff know what must be done to get there and how to do it? Successful leadership requires the ability to effectively communicate expectations and the willingness to provide sufficient autonomy, writes Douglas R. Conant, former president and CEO of Campbell Soup Co.

The first step in leading your team toward your desired accomplishments is to engage them in a conversation about the start point, the end point, and how to move from one to the other. Get their input and you're more likely to get their commitment. At Campbell Soup, Conant used a "balanced scorecard" to spell out the expectations, accomplishments and objectives. To identify the way in which employees were supposed to reach their goals, he used a leadership model that delineated six expectations.

Next, it is vital for you as a leader to "declare yourself," Conant writes. Explain the code you live by, your values and why you care about your work. Then, you have to "walk the talk," follow through on your words and accept accountability. This work is never done.

"People lead complicated lives and aren't hanging on your every word or the company mission statement. You have to become a broken record of your expectations of the organization and show people why it is relevant and how it works in specific ways," he writes.

While spelling out your goals and expectations, you have to be careful not to strip employees of their autonomy. Workers need flexibility and freedom to work in ways that best suit them. You have to be consistent, but that doesn't mean you can't be adaptable. Allow yourself the freedom to be wrong some of the time.

"The one thing I know is that whatever decisions I make, they will sometimes be wrong. So, when I declare myself, I acknowledge that at some point I will make a mistake," he writes. "Making this room for yourself, being flexible, does not say that you don't know what you are doing. What it does say is that you know exactly what you are doing and, because of this understanding, you know everyone makes mistakes ... the fittest leaders are those most capable of learning."

For more:
- see Douglas R. Conant's post at Harvard Business Review

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