32 Pivotal Leadership Gifts to Improve Performance and Productivity

Tis the Season

In a recent survey, 65% of Americans said they would choose a better boss before a raise in pay. I venture to guess that the teams these folks work in could be far more productive.

If you're reading this, you're already on your way to improving that statistic. Can you find another leader or two and take them on the journey with you?

Let's all begin by giving our teams what they really need. Here are 32 leadership gifts you can give your team (and yourself!):


1. A Compelling "Why"

  • Why does your team or organization exist?
  • Why do your team members do the work they do?
  • What difference does it make?

2. A Meaningful Vision of the Future

What are you all working toward? What will be different tomorrow as a result of the work you do today?

3. An Active Mission

How will your team and organization make tomorrow a reality?

4. Real Values

How will the organization commit to doing business with one another and the outside world?

5. Consistency

  • Are you and other organizational leaders living out the values, making decisions based on what takes all of you toward that future vision, and modeling commitment to your compelling "why"?
  • Do you avoid chasing fads and shiny things that aren't directly related to the organization's purpose?

6. Clear Expectations

  • Does your team know what is expected of them on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis?
  • Have they helped craft these expectations?
  • Do you revisit them regularly to make sure expectations and reality still make sense?

7. Focus on Results

Does your team understand how its compelling 'why' translates into real-world outcomes? Does everyone know what those outcomes are and how to achieve them?

8. Retelling

Do you keep the mission, vision, values, and outcomes in front of your team and organization on a regular basis to remind everyone of what's important and why?

9. Actual Decisions

Do you ensure that every decision concludes with everyone knowing who is doing what, by when, and how they will pass along the results?


10. Skills

Does your team have the skills it needs to accomplish results? Are you providing training, education, or coaching to ensure people can succeed?

11. Equipment

Does your team have the tools they need to succeed?

12. Belief

Do you believe your team can accomplish their mission? Do they know you believe in them?

13. Remove Barriers

Do you use your position and influence to remove needless obstructions and facilitate cooperation from other teams or departments? If it's red tape, do you cut it?

14. Help With Thinking

  • Do you avoid thinking for your team?
  • Do you ask questions that help team members generate their own solutions?
  • Do you ask 'what ifs' to explore alternatives and consequences?
  • Do you ask "What will you do?" to cement next steps?
  • When someone says "I don't know," do you ask, "What would you do if you did know?"

15. Meaningful Encouragement

Do you know what motivates your individual team members? Have you asked? Do you give positive encouragement in ways that are meaningful to them?

16. Gratitude

Do you regularly thank your team members for choosing to be a part of your team and contributing their time, talent, and effort to this mission?

17. Invest In People

  • Do you build into your team, providing the training, coaching, opportunities, and delegation they need to grow?
  • Are your people better off for their time spent with you?
  • Do you share power and decision-making?

18. Safety

  • Do you make it safe to learn, to take risks, to try new things?
  • Do you provide clear criteria that must be met when risks are taken?
  • Do you avoid blame and focus on what the team learned to do next time?

19. Develop Strengths

Do you spend most of your development energy learning and cultivating your team member's strengths?

A Human Leader

20. Health

Do you care for yourself and keep yourself physically, relationally, mentally, and emotionally healthy? (Not only are you more effective, but it makes it more likely your team will do the same.)

21. Heart

Does your team know what you stand for? Do they know what motivates you, what you value, and where you care?

22. Apology

When (not if...) you screw up, do you own it, apologize, and make it right?

23. Learning

Can your team observe you learning and growing in skill and competence?

24. Levity

Can you laugh at yourself and the other absurdities that certainly confront you and your team?

25. Humility

Do you act in concert with that old Italian proverb: "Once the game's over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box." Do you acknowledge your own dignity and worth along with your team members'?

26. The Right Problems

Are you choosing the right problems for yourself and your team (as opposed to trying to avoid problems altogether or focusing on the problems that don't get you any closer to your mission).

27. A Good Example

Would your organization truly be better off if team members modeled their behavior towards each other, your clients, and customers on yours?


28. Celebration

Do you acknowledge when things go well? As a team, do you take the opportunity to reinforce and remember what you're all about?

29. Correction

When someone is negatively impacting the team, do you help them remedy the behavior?

30. Separation

When someone is clearly not aligned with the team, the organization, or the values, do you care about your team and that individual enough to help them move on?

31. Accept Criticism

When someone brings a concern, do you listen and thank them for having the courage and taking their time to share it with you?

32. Justice

Life isn't always fair, but within your team and organization, do you hold yourself and the team accountable for just practices in employment, pay, time off, benefits, etc.?

Your Turn

Please add to this list in the comments below. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

What other leadership gifts do you give your team?

What leadership gifts do your leaders give you?

Take care,

David M. Dye


Creative commons photo: Gold Box by Thana Thaweeskulchai, Pink Packages by Mrskyce, Bow by Emily Orphin

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