If you were to google “leadership” you’d find a whopping 333,000,000 results (well, at the date of this article at least). Leadership Development is a whole industry in itself…and yet somehow, despite this huge amassed knowledge on the subject, we still have so many press stories from across the world where leaders have not met the expectations of their people, their stakeholders and often themselves. So what can we learn from the Leadership industry so that more people can lead where others have failed? Here are three top tips:
Number One: Develop self-awareness. Here’s a quick self-awareness test: ask yourself ‘what does my team think about me?’ This could be a team you lead, or a team you’re part of. If you’re just guessing at the answer, then it’s highly possible that you could uncover some blindspots here. Great leaders understand the impact they have on others; not just with their teams, but with everyone they come into contact with. Ever heard of ’emotional wake?’ This is about acknowledging that everything, including every look you give, every offhand remark, even the tone of your voice, leaves an impression on those around you. It’s up to you as to whether that impression is positive or negative.
Number Two: Be honest with yourself. Start by asking yourself whether the relationship you have with your team members is as good as it could be. Can they talk openly with you? Do they trust you? Are you respected, feared or ignored? (And what do you prefer?) If you have regular team meetings, is there a good level of positive energy in the room, and a healthy amount of debate? If you’re not sure about some of these, then we could be back to blindspots.
Number Three: What’s the culture you’re creating? What kind of role model are you? Remember the adage “you can’t change other people; you can only change yourself.” If things aren’t as you want them to be right now in your team, what can you do personally to change that? We’re not talking about management tasks like delegating more or having weekly meetings; instead this is about ways in which you could change your behaviour to have a more positive affect on others. So here are a few questions for you to ruminate on:
- What would happen if you showed more kindness at work?
- What would happen if you decided to trust someone before they’d fully earned it?
- How would it change things if you shared more of your personal story?
- What would you have to let go of in order to empower the people you work with?
Some of these changes might seem to be a bit risky, and so you may be experiencing a teensy feeling of discomfort in the pit of your stomach right now. So here’s where I sneakily introduce Number Four: Be prepared to take risks. No one ever said leadership was an easy job. Remember, you’re leading people, not robots, so there’s nothing average, safe or predictable about that.
But if you really can’t see yourself making those kinds of changes above, then ask yourself what changes could you make, so that you can succeed where others have failed?