Several years ago, a group of students won the opportunity to submit an experiment for a shuttle flight into space. The students wanted to see how well a spider could adapt to weightlessness in a near zero gravity environment.
When in space, the spider started to create its web, but this natural process changed in an instant when the eight-legged astronaut was confronted with a very new situation. As she attempted to spin her web in space, she discovered there was no gravity to pull her from point A to point B. Every rule and condition of her previous existence had dramatically and completely changed. Her web was a total failure.
She did not give up. After many failed attempts, and considerable trial and error, she figured out that she could actually “swim” through the air like a waterstrider bug on the surface of a lake. Using this technique, the adaptable little spider soon completed a web. In the end, she mastered her web-making skills in a totally new environment, even though everything she had previously known was obsolete.
As people are promoted into leadership positions, they can experience a very new situation. Much like the spider in space, they will likely try and do the same behaviors that helped them achieve success in the past. However, those same behaviors will likely not be as helpful as they were in previous positions. Like the spider, a newly promoted leader needs to adapt their behavior to their new environment, leveraging their strengths and building new skills.
What are the skills that a leader needs? What are the most important behaviors that a leader must adapt to and use? Over the past two decades, Stewart Leadership has collected over 8,000 responses from our 360-degree leadership assessment. These responses come from executives, managers, and employees from Fortune 500, mid-sized, start-up, and government organizations across multiple industries.
From a list of 78 leadership behaviors, each participant was asked to rank the top behaviors of an “ideal leader” (one they would like to work for). Our team analyzed and ranked their responses to identify the Top Ten Most Desired Leadership Behaviors. Note that these behaviors are listed in order from highest to lowest, so the first trait is the most desired. Look through this list and see how you are doing in your leadership activities.
- Sets clear strategic direction.
- Knows when to stop analyzing an issue and make a decision.
- Follows through on actions, promises, and assignments.
- Has the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively perform job duties.
- Demonstrates high ethical standards.
- Lives, leads, manages, and works with integrity.
- Accepts responsibility for own actions.
- Leverages the strengths of each team member.
- Treats others with dignity.
- Creates a working environment that motivates high individual performance.
With so much discussion these days on how to create engaged and committed employees, the answer lies with so many of these Top Ten behaviors. Employees expect leaders to establish a clear direction and to support that focus with thoughtful and deliberate decisions. We all expect leaders to follow through on their commitments, do what they say, and understand what they are talking about. This does not mean that leaders need to have all the answers. They can respect the contributions of others in doing great things and finding new solutions together. Ultimately, leaders build an environment of accountability both for themselves and for others where high performance can occur.
- So, how do you measure up to this Top Ten list?
- How have you adapted your behaviors to new leadership situations?
- Which of these 10 behaviors would you like to further develop?
Let’s learn and take heart from the astronaut spider. If she can learn to spin her web in zero gravity, surely we can adapt our behavior to more fully inspire, empower, and collaborate with others as we perform our role as a leader!
We created a printable infographic with the above 10 Leadership Behaviors for you to download and print for your home, or office, to support you as you continue to develop your leadership skills and invest in yourself in 2017.
Learn more how the LEAD NOW! 360 Assessment can support you in your leadership journey. We invite you to schedule a time to visit with Taura Prosek, one of our amazing Stewart Leadership coaches, on how we can support you as you invest in yourself as a leader!
Note: This article was originally posted on LinkedIn
Daniel Stewart is co-author of the award-winning book LEAD NOW! and president of Stewart Leadership, an international leadership, teaming, and change management consulting, coaching, and training company, which has been building leaders for over 35 years. Visit www.stewartleadership.com to learn more and follow him on LinkedIn and twitter @stewartleader.