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A Simple Way to Dramatically Improve Your Leadership

For many managers, improving leadership is very easy. Just show up.

Schedule a one-on-one meeting with each direct report every two weeks. If a manager says he is too busy serving the customer or attending meetings to spend two hours a month with each direct report, then he is not a manager; he is an individual contributor.

The one-on-one meeting is ideally scheduled for one hour at the same time each week. The agenda is owned by the subordinate. There should be no preparation work for the manager. Typically, the subordinate will present his plans, describe progress-to-date, and ask for specific manager support. The manager listens deeply and commits his support. Remember, this is not a performance review -- do not make judgments. As a manager, your objective is to help your subordinate succeed in his role.

The biggest value of one-on-ones may not be the meeting itself. It's like studying for a test in school. Sure, you study all semester, but before tests, your studying is many times more productive. The same is true when using one-on-ones. Subordinates will focus themselves for the Friday quiz. One-on-ones increase productivity.

Being a great leader does not have to be so difficult. For now, forget the leadership books and theories. Your first step is to just show up.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Hall is managing director of Human Capital Systems (www.humancapitalsystems.com), a firm that designs systems for improving workforce performance. He is also an instructor in Duke Corporate Education's teaching network and author of The New Human Capital Strategy. Hall was formerly a senior vice president at ABN AMRO Bank in Amsterdam and IBM Asia-Pacific's executive in charge of executive leadership and organization effectiveness. During his tenure, IBM was twice ranked No. 1 in the world in Hewitt/Chief Executive magazine's "Top Company for Leaders." Hall completed his Ph.D in industrial-organizational psychology at Tulane University, with a dissertation on people management practices of Japanese corporations.
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