Leaders come bearing gifts to their staff. They set the culture of the organization in positive and sometimes negative ways. The best leaders create a culture of clarity, development and optimism that we can accomplish our mission. All three of these are positive gifts to the staff they lead.
The gift of clarity is helping everyone be crystal clear as to what we are about and what our focus needs to be. The more sharply we can articulate our direction and focus, the more our staff can in turn focus their work! Focused clarity within organizations is not as common as one might think because it requires an enormous and ongoing effort by leadership to clarify their mission and an equally enormous effort to keep the organization focused on that mission. However, that clarity is a great gift to staff as they know what the goal is and where their energies need to be focused.
The focus part of the equation is perhaps the hardest because staff and teams must figure out on a quarterly basis how they prioritize their work and what will constitute a "win" for that quarter. Not all activity is of equal value. The most important activity is what we ought to be focused on and that is the value of quarterly win cycles for everyone in the organization.
The gift of staff development is an indication of whether leaders are generous in seeking to help staff grow and develop or selfish in simply using staff for their own purposes. Think about the various work roles you have had over the years and ask the question, "did I leave that role with greater skill and success because someone intentionally developed me or was I simply left to my own devices?" Leaders have a stewardship responsibility to help staff grow, flourish and to give them opportunity to use their gifts fully. This is a truly significant gift and staff never forget the gift.
This gift is both selfish and unselfish. Selfish in the sense that the ongoing development of staff will come back to bless the organization and its work. It also creates a deep sense of loyalty to the organization because it signals a high commitment to staff. It takes time and effort to develop staff and they appreciate it.
The unselfish part of the equation is that such development may mean that your actually develop someone out of the organization. Their capacity grows and there may not be a place for their additional capacity in your organization but they will flourish elsewhere. Regardless of whether they stay or move on to higher levels of responsibility, you have given them the gift of growth and development. It is an unusual organization or leader who makes this a priority.
The gift of optimism is an attitude that together we can get our job done and accomplish our mission. A leader's optimism with their staff is critical in today's uncertain and competitive marketplaces. Optimism creates momentum while pessimism creates discouragement. Optimism married to a culture of teamwork and cooperation allows organizations to see results that no one could accomplish on their own. Regardless of whether a leader feels optimistic on any certain day, they give a gift to their staff when they choose to convey a positive attitude.
This is especially critical in times of stress and uncertainty as we have been walking through in the past several years. The attitude of the leader cascades down through the team or organization. Leaders who exude hope and optimism in spite of the circumstances create a place of energy and encouragement. Never underestimate the power of this gift.
Every leader can give these three gifts to their staff - if they value their staff enough to do it.