I left Amazon for a chance to scale and enhance my leadership ability. Home Depot gave me that chance. I was immediately struck by the quality of leadership development I was bombarded with on day one (in a good way!) AND the quantity of good leaders – plenty to learn from. The following is a list of leader behaviors that Home Depot stresses, plus my take on how to put them into action. The great thing about these behaviors is that they will help you influence without authority and be SEEN as a leader in your organization, no matter what company you’re with.

  1. RESPECT – Respecting the people on your team means listening. Some of the best advice I received as a new leader was from a former manager at Amazon. When I asked him what advice he could give me about leading a team he said this: “just listen to your team – REALLY listen.” Active listening is not only hearing the words, but understanding a point of view.
  2. INSPIRE – This one is difficult. Inspiration cannot be forced, you can’t set someone up for it; “Okay are you ready? Now I’m going to give you inspiration.” Inspiration comes from knowing the path ahead, why it’s so important, and how each person plays a part in getting the team there. I’ve found that the more autonomy you give, the more inspiration your team has.
  3. DEVELOP – Development often gets put on the back burner when teams are reacting to issues or when 1:1’s get into that all-too-often mode of updates rather than career planning. My guidance:
    • 75% of development should happen in the moment. Direct and transparent feedback is tough but vastly more valuable than nebulous career discussions. You cannot wait to give this feedback, it has to be immediate or it’s relevance is lost.
    • 15% should be self-directed (taking a class, attending a conference)
    • 10% should come from org-wide OPTIONAL learning classes, and
    • 5% should come from regular reviews.
  4. CELEBRATE – This one is EASY. So why are so many leader so bad at it? Before delivering the feedback keep in mind how the person would like to be celebrated (1:1, in a group, in front of a skip level?) Find ways to celebrate your team and don’t wait until they have accomplished something of magnitude to “deserve” celebration. Celebrate ATTITUDE and COLLABORATION more than individual accomplishment. Celebrate the way someone executed something as much (or more) than HOW they executed it.

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