What’s your most valuable leadership practice?
At the start of our work together, we’ll ask leaders and managers around the world for their most valuable leadership practice. There are several answers that consistently rise to the top, including clarity, vision, encouragement, communication, listening, empathy, and support.
These are certainly valuable. And when we ask the tens of thousands of leaders and managers we’ve worked with about the most valuable practice they’ve learned through our work together, one of the most frequent answers is to “Check for Understanding.”
Check For Understanding: Ensure that everyone in a conversation is on the same page and has a shared understanding of what they discussed to save hours, days, and weeks of headache, heartache, and frustration. (For more on the valuable communication tool: look at Check for Understanding)
But What’s the MOST Valuable Leadership Practice?
I love the “check for understanding” and I do think it’s one of the highest ROI practices you can use…
But, if I had to choose one practice that adds the most value and leverages everything else you do as a leader, I would choose a word that lacks glamor. It’s not flashy or charismatic. But it will be the deciding factor in your long-term success.
What’s the most valuable leadership practice?
Showing up moment by moment, day after day, project after project with the same skills, character, and commitment.
I’m training for my first ultra-marathon of about 33 miles over hilly trails.
You can’t train for a race like this in a day or a week. It takes months of consistent training including running, strength work, and stretching for your body to adapt and grow to meet the new demands.
Your team and organization are similar. Day-to-day consistency and accountability in a few practices will do far more good than multiple pronouncements and intentions.
Just like the body adapts to physical training, your team will adapt to practicing good communication when you practice it daily, bring one another back to focus when you forget, and celebrate success.
Then do it again the next day.
The same is true for any meaningful team behavior or leadership skill. Your team needs your encouragement consistently. To hold one another accountable every day. They need clarity of outcomes and priorities all the time.
Why Consistency is Rare and Valuable
You’re probably nodding and saying “Yes, yes, consistency – I get it.”
But consistency is valuable and multiplies every other leadership practice because it is so rare. It’s easy to encourage your team when you’re excited, results are fantastic, and everyone feels good.
It’s more challenging when you’re distracted, stressed, overwhelmed, or bored. Inconsistency undermines any good intention you share or initiative you begin. But showing up consistently builds trust.
That’s why we recommend developing a habit of using one leadership skill before adding the next.
(It’s also why meaningful leadership development programs combine spaced learning over time with action learning—where participants apply what they learn.)
The Most Valuable Leadership Practice – Your Turn
Consistency isn’t flashy. There’s no hack or trick to it. But showing up repeatedly, and doing what works, will build trust, strength in your team, positive habits, and success.
And commit to the most valuable leadership practice: consistency in your chosen skills. It makes all the difference.
I’d love to hear from you: How do you maintain consistency in the practices that matter most for your success?