Saturday, July 12, 2014

It's less about what WE say, rather it's how WE say it.

Great leaders have a monumental impact on the people around them, so much so that they can change the trajectory of their careers. Among great managers, it’s incredibly easy to find people on their teams who have fundamentally been transformed. Thus, the prototypical leader of the future will shift from the steely-eyed command-and-control type to one who is more open to feedback….one who specializes in communication, collaboration and co-ordination. To become one of them, there's a few things we could do:

  • Articulate a vision that enrolls and inspires the people around.
  • Be a role model for those around you and invest in reaching your potential
  • Frame your communications in the values of who you are communicating with.

Leadership is not a title, it is about having the attitude of taking responsibility backed up by the willingness to take action. Leaders are prepared to put in the effort and sacrifice short term results to reap dividends in the longer term. Great leaders make a commitment to achieve excellence in all areas of life and regularly invest time and money into becoming the best they can be, taking themselves and those around around them to the next level.

It's vital to understand there are many paths to success. We need to understand that managing by trying to be liked is the path to ruin. As a leader, we need to care deeply, deeply about our people while not worrying or really even caring about what they think about us. However this is easier said than done, but added it's important to avoid simply telling employees what they want to hear.

It's also very important to be transparent; people are always looking at you - Don't lose their trust by failing to provide transparency in your decisions and critiques. The way we build trust with our people is by being forthright and clear with them from day one.

As we can imagine in a startup environment where leadership roles may not be well defined. But if we don't deal with, dysfunction could become embedded in the company. That dysfunction becomes learned and part of the culture of the company and it's almost impossible to eradicate it. Knowing how to effectively project ourselves as a leader and to understand the impact we have on others will define the success as a leader. Employees look to leaders to give them confidence that their organisation is moving in the right direction and that, as employees, that they are part of an important cause. Because they understand the fundamental difference between “Intention” and “Impact” in communications and how to structure their behavior and communication style accordingly to create an engaged, inspired and effective team.

Successful leaders also understand that their team will always be a reflection of themselves. If as the leader, they are not highly organised, the team is unlikely to be either. If the leader does not focus on growing their knowledge and on-going personal development, then it is almost certain that their team will not either. So successful leaders need to be congruent and display the behaviors that they want to see exhibited by their team members.

One true test of a leader is whether their teams and achievements endure after they leave their post. If we aspire for leadership, we need to ensure that we've prepared our team to succeed without us. That means finding or grooming a successor, building processes that can persist long after we transition to a larger role, and creating a culture that embeds the right habits and norms into the fabric of our team.

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