Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership by Anika Bagga

At the last Teen Committee meeting, we received the results from our observers on how well we had incorporated the five practices of exemplary leadership as defined by the Student Leadership Challenge. The areas that I need to work on, in sequence, are Encourage the Heart, Challenge the Process, Inspire a Shared Vision, and Model the Way.

My intention this year as part of the Teen Committee is to work on Encourage the Heart (Practice 5). There are two commitments in Practice 5:

  • Recognize contributions and celebrate values and victories.
  • Celebrate values and victories by creating a spirit of community.

The first commitment is recognizing contributions. Recognizing contributions encompasses rewarding those whose actions align with the organization’s goals and values. Although appreciation may seem embarrassing or uncomfortable, learning from small acts of appreciation can better help you understand what’s appropriate socially and culturally. Appreciation can also help your develop a better connection with each person. Here are some suggested actions by Student Leadership Challenge:

  • Make sure people know what is expected of them.
  • Maintain high expectations about what individuals and teams can accomplish.
  • Communicate your positive expectations clearly and regularly.
  • Let people know that you believe in them not just verbally, but also through your actions.
  • Create an environment that makes it comfortable to receive and give feedback including feedback given to you.
  • Link recognition and rewards with what your group states it wants to achieve so that only those who meet or exceed these goals receive them.
  • Find out the types of encouragement that make the most difference to others.
  • Don’t assume you know. Ask. Take the time to inquire and observe.
  • Connect with people on a personal basis. Stop by and visit them where they are.
  • Be creative when it comes to recognition. Be spontaneous. Have fun.
  • Make saying “thank you” a natural part of your everyday behavior.
  • Don’t take anyone for granted.

This year I would like to work on connecting with people on a personal basis – stop by and visit them where they are.

The second commitment is celebrating values and victories. By celebrating team accomplishments, leaders are able to create team spirit and create a culture where excellent performance is the result of teamwork. Social interactions relive stress and loneliness. Also, leaders should make an effort to tell stories of extraordinary people to serve as a guide for future action. Here are some suggested actions by Student Leadership Challenge:

  • Find and create occasions to bring people together.
  • Make sure to relate the fundamental principles that are being honored when you bring people together to celebrate.
  • Think and plan how you can take some time at a future group event or meeting to share a success.
  • Find out about people’s stories—what they are doing to make the organization successful.
  • Keep a journal so that you can capture (and remember) examples of exemplary performance.
  • Never pass up any opportunity to publicly relate true stories about how people in your group went above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Anywhere you interact with others is an acceptable venue for telling a good story.
  • Err on the side of telling stories in a timely fashion rather than saving them up for some special occasion.
  • Make sure that people understand how they are “part of the whole” and that lots of others are working to make them successful, even if they don’t know them
  • personally.
  • Repeat this phrase at every celebration: “We are in this together.”
  • Plan a festive celebration for even the smaller milestones that your team reaches or the efforts people put forth. Don’t wait until the whole project is completed before you celebrate.
  • Have fun when you’re celebrating—laugh and enjoy yourself, along with others.
  • Set aside at least one day as a distinctive organizational celebration day, and remind people why it is important to remember and mark this day as special.
  • End each of your team meetings with a round of public praise, being sure to play around with ways to keep this ritual fresh, meaningful, and genuine.

This year I would like to work on finding people’s stories, so I can find out about the wonderful things they are doing, and keeping a journal so I can capture examples of exemplary performance.

How will I carry out my intentions?

I will be more vocal through blogs and email. Through these mediums, I will work on recognizing people’s achievements and contributions. I will also emphasize the entire group’s progress and accomplishments.

What are some tools that may help me carry out my intentions?

The blog and email will help me carry out my intentions.

What are some things that may hold me back from fully carrying out my intentions? How will I deal with them?

The only thing that will hold me back from practicing this skill will be myself. I can often be very doubtful about the decisions I make and refrain from trying new things. To deal with this, I will let myself be more vulnerable and open to making mistakes. I will also reflect over my decisions and consult those around me.

Who will I recruit to help me? How can they can help me?

I will call upon mentors and people that can give me constructive feedback and suggestions.