Is your leadership supporting your organisation?
Leadership action is not unlike love, it’s what’s inside you. It’s not what your surroundings are, or what you look like. Leadership is about guiding opinions and actions to support an organisation or situation in a chosen direction. And the best leaders will ensure that everyone involved will enjoy the journey and grow from the experience.
Leadership, management training and development are important investments for the successful businesses of tomorrow. Leaders inspire and motivate the stakeholders, while managers plan, organise and coordinate projects. These important contributors require training and support to maximise their effectiveness in today’s challenging business environment.
It is important to genuinely care
Sometimes in life, you find yourself pushing your plans aside to listen to someone vent their issues and to be their shoulder to cry on. Tomorrow’s leaders are the people that others come to when they want to talk about life and what is going wrong, or how to improve it. You make time for this because you honestly care about how people feel.
Great leaders not only try to get to know who their people as employees and other stakeholders but also as actual people. They acknowledge that people have feelings, their ups and downs, just as they do, and need to have someone to listen and reset their mind.
All the skill in the world won’t compensate for an uncaring heart. Generosity will make you a remarkable leader. Make your voice count as you seek to serve others with humility, courage and compassion.
Leadership lessons from a sporting coach
Some call him the greatest coach in history. Before retiring in May 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson spent 26 seasons as the manager of Manchester United, the English football (soccer) club that ranks among the most successful and valuable franchises in sports.
During that time the club won 13 English league titles along with 25 other domestic and international trophies. This gave him an overall haul nearly double that of the next-most-successful English club manager. Ferguson was far more than a coach. He played a central role in the United organisation, managing not just the first team but the entire club.
Ferguson had eight leadership lessons that capture crucial elements of his approach. Many of them can certainly be applied more broadly, to business and to life. Adapt it as a formula for your leadership.
- Start with the foundations
- Dare to rebuild your team
- Set high standards, and hold everyone to them
- Never, ever give up control
- Match the message to the moment
- Prepare to win
- Rely on the power of observation
- Never stop adapting.
Some common leadership dilemmas
- Increase revenue in a small market?
- How can you manage cash flow without day to day involvement?
- Inspire creativity and innovation across all stakeholders?
- Choosing how to research the marketplace.
- Understanding and implementing modern technology and communications.
- How to better engage with the community.
- What charities to support and how best to do it?
- What transformational practices should be adopted?
- How do you choose the best analytics?
- Should you have a Board of Directors?
- How will you get to know what you don’t know?
Don’t become a cautious leader
Visionary thinking and great ideas and opportunities typically receive quick turndowns from cautious leaders. Too many leaders keep thinking small and safe. Everyone starts to dream and act small when cautious leaders control decisions.
Cautious leaders drain creativity and boldness from the people around them. Even though you might want things done quickly, never become a micro-manager. Good leaders help people to make their own decisions and mistakes.
Good leaders get the ball rolling and things are produced.
Searching for core elements of modern leadership
There is no doubt leadership is always evolving. Every day, you learn more about how to inspire those you lead, and what to expect from those you follow. Specifically, you’re learning which skills and traits today’s best leaders consistently demonstrate. Skills you must learn and for many, learning which traits you must unlearn.
Some thought starters:
- Good leadership starts with a crystal clear vision and a plan to achieve it
- Your team understands and is investing in the purpose, vision, objectives and values of the organisation.
- Leadership demands a high level of trust. Without trust in the leader, alignment with the organisation’s vision may never be achieved
- They believe in themselves and what they are doing to motivates others
- How creative and innovative do you need to be?
- Adapt to the personalities and the wants and needs of your team
- Overcome barriers and adversity because you become more action orientated
- They build thought leadership using good content marketing practices
- Good leaders believe in ‘we’ and ‘us’, while old-school leaders still talk about ‘I’ and ‘me’
- People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel
- The traits you expect most from a modern leader include active listening, engagement and accountability
- They have the ability to inspire action and giving everyone a voice
- Good leaders know how to learn from their mistakes and failures
- They know that when one door closes another one opens leaving the past behind
- For some leaders, feeling vulnerable and exposed makes them feel uncomfortable. This is a barrier to success as a leader.
Mark Twain’s quote still rings true for today’s leaders. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”.
Flexibility a prerequisite for modern leadership
Flexible leaders feel uncomfortable when they doubt themselves or their team. Inflexibility is a security blanket for weak or fearful leaders, but too much flexibility creates instability. To some, inflexibility feels safe, even if the results are disappointing. They feel it’s better to stay the course than face the uncertainty that change implies.
With inflexible leaders, the status quo tends to remain the same. Inflexible leaders push forward when it’s wiser to adapt. As their problems and frustrations rise, their energy and self-confidence begin to evaporate. Inflexibility demoralises while adaptability energises.
Flexible leadership means
- Adopting new methods while clinging rigidly to the organisation’s vision
- Reassign people in order to better utilise their strengths and skills
- Eliminate ineffective or inefficient programs, not afraid to make a decision
- Have the courage to ask what isn’t working and what might work better
- Respond to recurring frustrations by adapting as you go
- Remove dead weight from the team. Like a fruit tree, the organisation needs to be pruned to create new vigour
- Streamline policies and procedures that are outdated or irrelevant hindrances
- Remain open to new ideas. Listen. Ask questions. “What happens if you adopt this suggestion”?
- Understanding that flexibility re-energises, and being agile in difficult times keeps people excited.
- Punish mistakes rather than learn
- Prefer command and control. It’s their way or the highway
- Expect ownership but get compliance
- Wonder what’s wrong with others
- Feel inadequate and vulnerable when things go wrong
- Fail to be the most competent member of the team
- Reject highly talented teammates because they are threats
- Won’t recruit and develop others.
- Have no idea how to manage culture
- Feel unappreciated and misunderstood
- Don’t listen, even when their back’s to the wall.
When business conditions change, often the most successful companies are the slowest to adapt. The fresh leadership and thinking that led to the company’s initial success are often replaced by a rigid devotion to the status quo. Building on your relationship strengths means a better you, a better organisation and a better community.
Are you doing the same thing, the same way and expecting a different result? Take control, leadership is required in the management of time and resources, achieving results that might even surprise you and with more fun.
Good leaders with good values are trusted
Few things are more important or more powerful than a team of talented people who trust each other and are trusted by others. Trust is infectious, be a leader people can always rely on and trust. Trust people who trust others. A person who can’t trust others can’t lead.
Surround yourself with people you can trust. It doesn’t matter what you want to achieve if you surround yourself with untrustworthy people, progress will be poor. Failure is inevitable with leaders who trust the wrong people.
“People think in stories, not statistics”. Arianna Huffington
“Leadership is not magnetic personality, that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’, that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations”. Peter Drucker