Leadership Lessons

The Most Important Leadership Behavior

There are four critical behaviors effective leaders use to create results. Three are fairly straightforward: communicate about performance, ask for more, and push work down. However, together these behaviors account for only 60% of the results an effective leader creates.

The fourth behavior, by itself, provides 40% of value created: getting to know your people. Leadership expert Mark Horstman notes, "The most important thing you can do as a manager is to develop a trusting relationship with the people on your team. If you do, everything else is easier. If you don’t, everything else is harder…"

There is a quick test to see how well you know your people: What are the first names of the spouses and children of your direct reports?

Now, just knowing the names doesn’t make a person a great leader; leadership isn’t that easy. While this may not be a comprehensive, scientific test, it is a quick and practical one. Thinking of your own experience, were your best leaders the ones who understood you as a whole person or the ones who knew you only by your work?

One of the quickest ways to develop that human connection with your employees is to care enough to know a bit about those who your employees consider the most important people in the world.

[Adapted from The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman.]

Each month, the HR Center for Learning and Leadership spotlights an excerpt from a leadership publication.

Recommendations for future leadership lessons may be submitted to askHR@baylor.edu.