Leaders have a profound impact on their team, company culture, and bottom line. Yet many of us feel unprepared for leadership. We think that perhaps we’re not cut out to lead, or that we have to shoehorn ourselves into being something that we’re not.
Many of us end up in leadership as a result of being technically excellent but with little opportunity to develop as a leader ahead of arriving in the role. So we often find ourselves having to learn as we go, continually finding the courage to step outside our comfort zone into unknown territory. And all of that whilst also navigating the other elements of running a business.
The good news is, we are all able to learn how to be better leaders and we already have a wealth of skills, strengths and talents we can draw on.
What exactly is leadership?
We may have many preconceptions about what leadership is, given what we see in the media, our own experiences in the world of work, and maybe what we learnt about leadership as we grew up.
‘Leadership is the ability to build and maintain a high performing team.’ - Dr Robert Hogan
This definition focuses the mind on what our job is as a leader. At its heart, leadership is about getting a group of people to work together towards a common purpose and to do it efficiently.
Creating the right conditions in which people can flourish and be at their best, and so deliver what the business is there to do.
Recognising that how we lead directly impacts the motivation, engagement and wellbeing of the team, which affects results and bottom line.
What qualities make a great leader?
We think these three sources sum them up well:
1. Six competencies of exemplary leadership - Warren Bennis
The renowned leadership expert Warren Bennis identified six competencies that exemplary leaders share. They are being able to:
Create a sense of mission
Engage and motivate others
Build an adaptive and agile social structure
Generate and sustain trust
2. Two characteristics of great leaders - Jim Collins
Jim Collins in his book ‘Good to Great’ found through his research into Fortune 1000 companies, that those whose performance moved from mediocrity to sustained excellence all had a new CEO at the helm. And, they shared two surprising characteristics:
Extreme personal humility
They were humble and modest rather than self-promoting and self-dramatising
Intense professional will
They were incredibly persistent
3. Emotional Intelligence - widely recognised as the single biggest predictor of leadership success
Using the RocheMartin definition, the ten components of emotional intelligence that drive leadership success are:
What do teams need from you as their leader to be at their best?
Remember that they are unique individuals and treat them as such.
Take the time to understand them individually, what each one needs from you and how you need to flex what you do to help them be at their best.
Respect the qualities they bring and show your appreciation for the effort they make.
Remember they are imperfect human beings that are prone to error.
Establish and maintain the ingredients needed for high performing teams
Through role modelling desired behaviours and working with them in a way that’s right for them – individually and as a team.
Through a combination of my own research and experience, the 5 essential ingredients needed for high performing teams that feel great to work in are:
Good team relationships and a psychologically safe environment
Common team purpose
Clear roles and responsibilities
Agreed ways of working
Clear inter-team dependencies (making sure ingredients 1-4 are in place for every stakeholder and team that the team needs to interact with).
What can you do to accelerate your leadership potential?
Leadership is a huge topic and too big for one blog, so I hope you’ve found these key points valuable.
You can accelerate your development and effectiveness by
- getting to know yourself really well:
deepen your levels of self-awareness
understand what your strengths & values are and play to those more
build your understanding of how your behaviour changes under pressure, and what you need to be at your best
seek regular feedback from others, including your team
have a commitment and curiosity to uncover your areas for development
...and if you want to explore emotional intelligence then check out this collection of blogs that cover why each of the ten components is important and provides some ideas on how to develop them.
- getting to know your team really well and understanding what you can do to help them do their best work. These blogs might help
- working with a coach.
As with any personal or professional development, coaching is by far the most efficient, effective, engaging, empowering and enjoyable way to make the changes you need, to be the leader you want to be.
It can be lonely at the top and leaders often struggle to find the support they need to think things through. Coaching provides a safe, independent and non-judgemental space to do just that. Helping leaders explore their options and find answers to their leadership challenges.
If you'd like to explore coaching with me then, click this link to book a free call.
And if you'd like to get a monthly dose of ideas to help you change the way you think and develop personally and professionally, then you can sign up for my monthly email here.