Forget the words that spring to mind when you think of Trump, Jose or Corbyn, instead reflect on the emotions your style of leadership creates in those you lead. Do their emotions equate to how you describe your leadership style?
We all know about Leadership, read the book, done the course, and got the T-shirt; but how many of us are actually effective leaders in our organisations?
In my career I’ve worked for some inspiring leaders AND some not so inspiring bosses. The optimist in me says no experience is a wasted experience – you can learn from everyone you work for, even if it’s how NOT to do something! The realist in me has at times said “this Boss is a hindrance to me, my colleagues and the business”.
Our responsibility as business leaders is to inspire our people not hinder them, to remove all the emotional and physical obstacles that stop them believing that the apparent impossible, is actually possible – not too dissimilar to parenting a child.
As parents (leaders) we want to see our children (employees) fulfil their potential in life (role) and we demonstrate some or all of the following cyclical actions when deemed appropriate for their personal development.
Today the concept of leadership is no longer dependent on position – being a Director does not necessarily make you a Leader; the concept of leadership has shifted from command and control,to inspiration and persuasion; people follow people, particularly those they respect and trust.
Jesper Nielsen (formerly of the global jewellery brand Pandora) speaking at the NAJ Congress on Inspiring Leadership said “The leader in the room is the one with the most persuasive argument that gains the trust of those there ” – a business rather like a sports team needs lots of leaders on the field.
So how do you get this elusive respect and trust?
Well not the way I went about it in my first marketing managerial role – newly promoted from leading an external sales team and charged with adding greater urgency and customer centricity; I defaulted to command and control over a desk top PC … yes I know, I still cringe when I think about it, but I was young – even though the business case was sound, the delivery style set me back with my new team for quite some time.
In order to build trust you must be trustworthy, this requires a habit of doing what you say you will do (and as I painfully learnt – doing it in the right way). Be careful not to give undeserved praise just to make someone feel good or to use honesty as an excuse to express your anger – how often have you heard someone say “I’m only being honest” after delivering a severe blow to another’s confidence and self-esteem.
Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk “Why good Leaders make you feel safe” develops the theme of respect and trust. In essence he says Leadership is about the creation of feelings NOT instructions “you can’t say to your people trust me and they will”– they have to be persuaded by what they see you do and hear you say. “When the leader puts people first and they feel safe and secure, and remarkable things happen”.
3 Questions and 1 Exercise to help you decide if your leadership style is one to follow:
Q1. Do you adjust your style according to the person in front of you?
Q2. Do you encourage and support your people to take their own decisions and actions?
Q3. Do you remove their anxiety and fear and replace it with passion and direction?
For each question you answered yes, think of two examples that illustrate the frequency and significance of these leadership traits… for example you can claim to empower your staff but is that with the petty cash or the keys to the safe?
Would you still follow your leadership style?