Leadership is all about creating results. Great leaders are defined by great results—whether it is dominating their market space; delivering innovative new products; winning military battles; or creating new norms in our society. Leaders enable us to do more than we thought possible. They inspire us; they engage us; they focus our energy on what matters; they help us overcome obstacles; they influence and persuade us. While the approach and style isn’t the same for every leader, there is a common foundation that is useful to understand. Leaders’ behaviors impact how their followers (employees, partners, peers, customers…) take action; and those actions are what ultimately deliver results. It’s easy to forget that two step cycle —what great leaders know is that it is all about what you enable others to do, not just what you do yourself.

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How do great leaders consistently make that connection? Leaders lead with their own unique combination of personal style, perspective and motivation. No two leaders sound the same or follow the same recipe, but whatever their style, they align three levers:

1) What they say and how they say it. Communication is the backbone of leadership in all its forms: how you listen, how you respond, what you initiate, your tone, your words, your consistency, your message are the currency of how you lead. Great leaders make their thinking visible, not just their point of view but their reasoning as well.

2) How they spend their time and what they do. What you say is just the starting point, your team (wherever and whoever they are) also looks to what you do. Some studies suggest they look MORE at what you do, than what you say. How you spend your time—what you demonstrate matters to you as a leader—validates your leadership message.

3) What they ask others to do—the real direction they give. Leaders set direction both formally (strategic plans) and informally (the immediate response to a challenge or opportunity). When the allocation of the time and talent of the organization, as well as the financial resources, is consistent with the leadership message it builds momentum in execution.

These three drivers are the starting point of the Business Cycle of LeadershipTM—the cycle that all effective leaders leverage to connect their leadership actions to business results. When any one of these three levers is out of sync, a leader undermines that connection.

 

Amanda Young Hickman is co-founder of Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich, immersive business simulations and learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen and strategy execution.