Jake Trent

Small Acts of Leadership: 12 Intentional Behaviors That Lead to Big Impact

There are things that each of us can do to show leadership in the role we’re already in. Title is not required to make a real change in ourselves or to have a real impact on the people, organizations, and efforts around us. This book reads like a series of standalone sections that have wonderful stories or illustrations to share compelling ways we can show leadership. The anecdotes are engaging and inspiring.

The 12 behaviors discussed are:

  1. Believe in Yourself - Instead of worrying when something bad happens, move with clarity and resolve, like the sailor of the sinking ship. Believe that you’re lucky, and take a chance. Live the life that you want.
  2. Build Confidence - Practice and be prepared, and ye shall not fear. Build your self-effacacy by working hard and making accomplishments happen.
  3. Introduce Challenge - Notice and overcome your fear, like those fearful of snakes that learned to handle them step by step. Change your goal and mental context from performance to learning. Coach the uncomfortable to be comfortable and the comfortable to be uncomfortable, staying in the zone of growth.
  4. Express Gratitude - Support the work, being the best female vocalist the world has never heard of, Lisa Fischer. Build relationships with the good people around you.
  5. Fuel Curiosity - Say “I don’t know” if you don’t. Be willing to ask the improbable.
  6. Grant Autonomy - People learn faster when learning about a thing they love. Even if you predict it will happen, let non-mission-critical projects bomb so that less-experienced people can learn their own experience.
  7. Strive for Authenticity - Show your true self at work. Don’t hide your true traits, or you won’t be as engaged with your teammates. Don’t use jargon. Speak your need for inclusion. Don’t let others’ spoken needs become a social stigma, just the like Buddy Bench isn’t for elementary schoolers.
  8. Be Fully Present - Be mindful. Slow down. Hand write notes to absorb more. See potentially relationships. Don’t be chained to your device or digital notifications. Make a statement of importance by what you focus on. Do one thing at a time.
  9. Inspire Others - Give your time. Give and care about the positive energy that others give to the team. Add value instead of trying to top others. Don’t be a conversational narcissist.
  10. Clarify Roles - Don’t assume that if you put super-smart people on a team that they’ll do great things – help each know what their part to do is. Make communication simple and consistent, short and targeted. Establish team rituals.
  11. Defy Convention - Question the craziest rules. Don’t believe in glass ceilings that others tell you are there. Try something no one else has, like the arborist who saved elm trees in the UK. Do the right thing for people like Hancock Bank did after Hurricane Katrina.
  12. Take a Break - The more meetings, direct reports, complicated your work is, the more breaks you need. Respect your sleep. A day off can be more effective than an all-nighter in terms of productivity and quality. Step away and back to hard problems.
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