Do you spend time thinking about how you could become a great leader and create a lasting legacy? In this blog, Blue Gnu CEO, Elaine Gosden shares her top tips about leading and managing - hopefully, helping you to become the best leader you can be. ⠀
Top Tip 1: Guess what? Great leadership starts with you! ⠀⠀
Great leaders are generally very self aware - but this is not the case for everyone. Business owners, managers and leaders are so busy running or building their business, they focus more on the task than the people. This might mean they forget the impact they have on their team or enjoy the dependency and attention of their people playing to their ego as they build their empire (controversial!)⠀ ⠀
How do your people see you? If you don't take time to look at your leadership style or are not consistent in how you operate, you will be leading in a bubble. ⠀
There are many tools out there on the market to help you assess your personal style and leadership behaviours (and I've got a few to suggest ;) ). But perhaps simply asking the people in your team what it's like to work with you is a good start!
Top Tip 2: What’s holding you back?
Next, let’s examine your underlying beliefs and leadership mindset - what might be holding you back?⠀
Because when it comes to leadership mindset, two things tend to happen for most leaders I've met. Which one best describes you?⠀⠀
You want to be everyone’s friend and up doing a lot of the work yourself⠀
You push people (like you do yourself) and get frustrated when they can’t keep up or don’t do as you expected⠀
Every leader I’ve met is guilty of doing too much of one or the other. When it comes to mindset, the first approach is too focused on being supportive and the second too challenging. The critical mindset for effective leadership is to operate with BOTH High Challenge and High Support. And getting the perfect balance of these two extremes is the sweet spot for leaders.⠀ ⠀
The good news is you can learn how to be both challenging and supportive as a ‘both/and’ concept rather than ‘and/or’ which is what we are accustomed too. Examine your mindset. How could you bring your levels of support and challenge into powerful and equal combination?
If you need help shining a light on your mindset as a leader, let me know as I can help you measure it.⠀
Top Tip 3: It all starts with vision!
Before you can mobilise, develop and enable your people, you MUST help them see your vision of future success for the team or organisation. ⠀
When a new leader joins a team, there is an inevitable reaction ‘how will I fit in and lead this team?’ The team may also begin to test the boundaries to look for consistencies in your leadership style.⠀ ⠀
This is why having a clear vision is so important; being able to demonstrate to your team what you stand for, can only be helpful to them. If you are guarded it may only add pressure to an already stressful situation for both the team and you as their new leader!⠀⠀
If it is clear what you stand for and what is important to you – your ‘rules of engagement’ if you will – people know where they are. It also helps enormously if what you stand for is rooted in the beliefs of High Challenge-High Support (see top tip number 2!)
Top Tip 4: Explicitness - the under-utilised leadership skill ⠀
Imagine that you are responsible for teaching a small child how to light a campfire and you say to the child ‘The objective is to light the fire and prepare it for cooking supper. Now off you go and let me know how you get on’. Of course you wouldn’t! The consequences would be far too dangerous. Yet this is often the approach which many managers use when briefing their staff about what they would like them to do.⠀⠀
It is an assumption that we all know how to be explicit or that we are all able to utilise our skills of explicitness. What I mean (for the avoidance of doubt) by explicitness is ‘the skill of defining and communicating in unambiguous behavioural terms exactly what performance is required’.
Leaders fail here because they either haven’t thought it through or do not communicate explicitly. Sometimes this is because we may feel as though we are patronising our team members; but this is not the case – by contrast it can be VERY helpful especially as we begin to mobilise towards high performance. It certainly is an art – and one that needs to be practiced. ⠀⠀
Could you be more explicit about the behaviours and performance required with your team today? What impact would it have?
Top Tip 5: How to gain momentum while mobilising 'the troops'⠀
Once you have clearly communicated your leadership vision for your team, it’s time to get to work! In the mobilising stage, the leader gets people working together, wanting to improve, taking increased ownership and responsibility for what they do, and doing what is right within the context of the vision. How do they do this? By leaning on the following leadership qualities;⠀
Providing clarity and explicitness – specifying in clear unambiguous behavioural terms what is required for success⠀⠀
Maintaining assertiveness – using the underlying skills of assertiveness, giving feedback and maintaining consistency of standards⠀ ⠀
Giving strong clear feedback – both positive and negative (no sandwiches here please!), clearly and continuously to reinforce positive results⠀ ⠀
Resiliently maintaining momentum and direction – creating a flexible, learning and agile culture, not being thrown off by setbacks (ahem 2020!)⠀ ⠀
Diagnosing performance issues accurately - looking at the root cause of issues – are you facing skill or will issues in your team and do you know how to manage them appropriately?⠀ ⠀
Once you are able to do these things, will set you apart from other leaders and your team will begin to fly!⠀