As a business leadership coach and during my years as a management consultant, I have come to realise the true power of a good leader. A leader who leads from wherever they are from the perspective of enabling others to realise their potential and that of the business. It comes down to basic style. Effective leaders:-
1. Ask, don’t tell. Direct control is necessary and most appropriate in an emergency or a crisis period, however, it stifles innovation and empowerment at other times. It is also a real energy drain on the leader who is required to pre-think, pre-plan and articulate directions for everything. Not to mention the checking process. So if, for every “I want you to……” you thought through how to deliver a “What…” question – what impact could this have for you, your people and your business? In this example it might be “What do you think we should do next?”. You never know, you could get an innovative and effective answer! It also motivates the employee and encourages further support. Leadership does not always have to be a pyramid.
2. Listen. If possible, this is even more important. What are you hearing your employee saying? Do your team conversations feature 60% and upwards of you talking? It is great to inspire but how do you know that your messages are getting through? If you listen to not just what they say, but how they say it and try to uncover their assumptions and beliefs that have led them to articulate their thoughts, you can start to understand their perspectives and, if necessary, tailor your messages and styles accordingly.
3. Acknowledge. Even if it is a negative, just showing that you have heard and recognised their contributions will enhance your relationship and leadership position. By negative, I mean “I hear that you are against this plan so what do you think we could do instead?”. Or “I understand you disagree, what drives your thinking on this?”. Positive acknowledgement is of course extremely positive. Research shows that being recognised and valued are key drivers of employee motivation, retention and productivity.
Just try asking, listening and acknowledging more than you currently do and notice the responses. Then, I would love to hear your results.
Want to assess your leadership skills? Click here for short questionnaire and report.
The Week: Came back from holiday on Tuesday and spoke to the students of Essex University about my professional journey in a presentation called “Doing the deals – the alternative route to success”. This kicks off my programme for entrepreneurs at the University which will be launched on the 14th November. Very exciting. Wednesday was a business coaching client workshop which demonstrates that flexibility is required in every strategy. Recognising when to stop and change track is a real challenge and my client has been focused and realistic in changing her operating model at the right time. I am confident she will continue to grow her business at a far faster pace since adopting her strategy. Thursday was spent catching up with admin, marketing, service development etc and Friday was a mix of telephone coaching and a client workshop.
Reading for the month: As this is the last week, I refer to the reads recommended during the month.
The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies by Chet Holmes.
“The Tempered Radical” by Deborah E. Meyerson. Tempered Radicals: How Everyday Leaders Inspire Change at Work (Harvard Business School Press)
Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion and Influence: Science and Practice. by Robert Caidini.
Lighter Reflections: As it was half-term and Guy had the luxury of two weeks away from school, we decided to take a long weekend and walk some of the Norfolk Coastal Path. The weather was most accommodating and although we were, on occasions, bowled along or flattened dependent on which way the virulent wind was gusting, the sunshine remained with us throughout. On the drive up (yes up from where we live), I decided that I wouldn’t do my usual “business reading” but would support James driving by sitting next to him and pointing out the interesting sights along the way. Slightly perplexed by two road signs. The first an arrow sign stating”Gravel pit”, underneath on the same sign was a picture of a tent and caravan denoting a camp-site. Interesting views I suppose. Then, another stating “Cafe and artists ahead”. Presumably most of the local artists spend the majority of their time at the cafe and can be viewed drinking their favourite tipple. I was also interested in the fact that we walked for two hours on the first day and again for another hour on Day Two before we spotted the coast of our Coastal path. We also came to the conclusion that they don’t go out much in the evening in Norfolk. We struggled to find places to eat in the evening and finally found a fish and chip shop to be told that they were just about to close and we could only have pie and chips – at 7.30 p.m on a Saturday night. Most of the traffic on the roads consisted of people driving with their lights on full beam regardless of anyone else. Presumably they don’t meet many other people on the roads at night! We will of course go back and I thoroughly recommend the Norfolk Coastal Path to anyone wanting a break away from the usual day-to-day rat-race.
Future Forum Dates:
Highflyingdivas, London, evening 15th hosted by The Home Office
Leadership Forum, Colchester, a.m 22nd November
More at: (click logo to go to websites)