They say we teach what we need to learn and learn what we teach! This theory was put to the test for me recently when I was heading a team for a large project. It turned out to be spot on! Each day, week and hour can be an opportunity to develop, but if we are not ready and willing accept that there’s always room for more, then we will be cutting ourselves off from not only our own limitless potential, but also that of the individuals, teams and companies we are leading. I’m sharing these simple tips here as a reminder to us all that there’s no such thing as the perfect leader, only an evolving one! I’d personally be proud to don that label any day. Anyone who’s actively growing and upgrading and is not afraid to own it out loud, is likely to be a strong leader.
1 - Leadership has nothing to do with leading
Having a leadership position does not make you a leader. Connections and relationships do though. Good relationships with people are the foundation of leadership and solid leadership is one of the foundations of a successful company or establishment. Good relationships are built upon good listening, emotional intelligence, empathy and kindness. Being willing to be present on a more personable level with those you are leading will sky rocket the influence you can have on them by default. People sincerely appreciate generosity of time and attention, and when people feel appreciated and seen they are likely to give you the very best of themselves and their very best work.
2- Motivate through momentum
The most common route to problem solving is to thrash it about it until everyone is sick of the topic. As a leader, being able to guide and motivate your people to the solution or outcome through action rather than a ton of planning and talking will mean they are actively doing, picking up momentum and gaining instant real-time feedback which provides the chance to quickly course correct, move things around and develop and apply the best solution in a fraction of the time and with the least amount of frustration. Encouraging a solution seeking mindset rather than problem solving one will raise energy, reinstall and reinforce self-esteem and confidence.
3- Lead by example
By our nature as humans we are naturally wired to do less. People tend to do what they see and if you are not truly maximizing then it can be difficult to expect the people you lead to be doing so. Get to know the most conducive conditions for your own peak performance, it will give you insights into how your team can do the same as well as highlighting the desired standard with a tangible example rather than just words or a scripted manual. Who you are is who you attract and create on your team. Self-awareness is a key component to most things in life and business but to be a successful leader it really does start with you. Develop your ability to unravel and piece back together a situation based on your understanding and emotional intelligence. Are you willing to admit when you miss stepped? Are you self-aware enough to own when your state, emotions or attitudes are hindering you from being the best leader you can be in that moment? When we can let down our guard and drop our ego, we give others permission to do the same, thus providing a space where it’s ok to not be perfect but it’s equally not ok to pretend that you are.
4- Grow your company by growing your people
Personal development has never been more ‘in’ than it is now. Many think it’s fluffy, frivolous and rather a waste of time. It’s quite the opposite though. Imagine a group of people who are stagnant, stuck and never growing. Year after year they remain the same. Now imagine those people as the building blocks of your team, establishment or company. Doesn’t sound desirable does it? Building individuals up to be the best they can be is a wise and practical move. If outcomes like profit and growth have been questionable then perhaps a personal development and soft skills drive will provide surprising ROI figures. People are the essence of a culture and an in-house culture that is driven by a collective growth mindset is going to be visible in the outward façade and structure.
5- Leadership is a never-ending process
We’d be foolish to believe that we can nail being a great leader within a particular time frame. We, never really get done because each case, team and person is in a constant state of flux and will require different approaches and have different needs at different times of the day, month, year or project. This can be a tough one to swallow as at time it can seem like a bottomless pit of learning. Being flexible in your approach and rigid in your desired outcome will yield the results that you want. If our goal is to be a great leader and get the very best out of an individual or situation then we must show up daily. Since this is a relationship based system, we do well to approach it as if we are showing up for a family member, spouse or partner.
6- Vulnerable leaders are strong leaders
You don’t have to share your innermost to be an effective leader, in fact that could be to your detriment, if you share too much especially if it leaves you feeling exposed, However, there’s a difference between being real and TMI! (too much information) Finding a point of commonality or connection is a wonderful way to form bonds and links with others and being vulnerable to a point provides this space. Practice being vulnerable first with yourself, then your loved ones and then when you feel ready, within your work environment. If it’s not your default it can feel uncomfortable, so be easy with yourself. Start with the simple, everyday stuff like chaotic mornings at home with the kids because of a rough night’s sleep, or spilt breakfast over your work clothes. When you can be authentic with your people, you allow for a deeper sense of trust and respect and provide them with an opportunity to be vulnerable with you too. In that space of vulnerability. You’ll have the chance to get to know your people in a way that really matters.
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