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3 Wacky Leadership Tips that Might Just Help You Lead a Professionally Human Organization



By Kelly Vandever

I’ve led within large organizations and small. I’ve led in the military, in business, and on nonprofit boards.  I received my Masters in management science. I’ve read hundreds of books on the subject and taught leadership to managers from over 200 organizations.

Yet it’s still hard for me to capture in just a few words the essence of leadership.

Rather than go on and on about all the amazing things you could do to be the best leader you can be, we’ll discuss three wacky, unconventional things you can do that will make a bigger impact than you think.

Wacky Leadership Tip #1 – Tell Your Team Why the Work You All Do Is Important to You PERSONALLY!

Yeah, I said it.  Personally.

As in you…as a person…why you care about the work you and your team do.

Does it have something to do with the mission of your organization and how it helped an individual within your family? Have you told your team about that personal connection?

How do you use the product or services your organization provides? What does it mean to you? Does it bring order to your world? Or joy? Or frustration?

What have you seen that makes you feel good about the organization you work for? Is there a client story that really illustrates to you why you do the work you do?

Whatever it is the motivates you to want to do your best at work, share it with your team. Get personal! Share the info!!

Wacky Leadership Tip #2 – Purposefully Try Not to Be the Smartest Person in the Room

Ummm…yeah. Your team knows your smart.

But so are they.

Are you setting up conditions to let them show you how smart they are?

When you bring a new idea to your teams, do you say things like…

I feel like something is not quite right about what I’m suggesting but I can’t put my finger on it … what am I missing?

In 6 months from now, if we haven’t been successful, what do you think would have gone wrong?

What would you do differently if you were?

When was the last time a great idea made its way up to you from someone one, two, or even more levels below you? Has it ever happened? Do you have any formal mechanisms in place? Why do you think your mechanisms aren’t working? Have you asked your direct reports? Have you asked their employees?

Here’s the thing…they’re closer to the problems than you are. Their ideas may be even better than what you could have come up with.

So am I saying you shouldn’t come up with great ideas? Of course not! Your ability to problem solve brought you into a leadership role in the first place.

But instead look for ways you can let someone else be the smartest person in the room and see what you can learn and implement from them.

Wacky Leadership Tip #3 – Tell a Story about Yourself Where You Don’t Look So Good

Telling a story on yourself where you made a mistake can help humanize you to the people you lead. If they see you as more human, more likeable, they’ll work harder for you and they’ll tell you things that you need to hear without being as intimidated by your positional authority.

Telling a story where you don’t look so good lets your team know that you understand that they will make mistakes because you have too.

People love to hear about other people’s mistakes…it’s not because the story belittles you. Rather, they see you having the confidence to share your foibles without letting them define you.

Unconsciously they will feel like you’re giving them permission to learn from their mistakes too while enduring them to you as a person.

Look, leadership is a strange beast. We may want to always look polished and professional to instill confidence. But a little wackiness can really make a difference in relating as both a professional and a human being.

Try it.  And tell us what happens!!


Kelly Vandever is a leadership and communications expert who helps leaders and organizations thrive in today’s attention-deficit, entertain-me-now, wait-while-I-post-that-on-Facebook world. Learn how opening up and speaking practically can bring you better business results. Connect Kelly by phone at 770-597-1108, email her at Kelly.Vandever @ SpeakingPractically.com or tweet her @KellyVandever.