Leadership does not just come when you are in a senior position. Yes, you will be given authority and managing a team, but that does not make you a leader. Leadership is about influence. The influence to inspire others to work hard and put their all into achieving the objectives of the business.
Good leaders set challenging targets, act decisively and strive to stand out against their competitors. To be a leader you need to possess a set of skills that allow you to communicate your ideas effectively, motivating your people to act and follow your example.
Leadership means being respected, credible, and trustworthy. Someone who people want to follow and who can think critically about how best to develop their team’s abilities as well as delegate and utilize any resources they have access to.
Leaders must also not be afraid to ask for help or acknowledge when they aren’t sure of the answers. The greatest leaders are humble, recognise that they do not know everything, and always ask a lot of questions.
If you adopt the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ mentality when leading your team, you will lose their trust and respect. Your people will no longer be enthusiastic about their work and morale will be low.
Effective leaders need to be able to influence their team. To earn your people’s trust, you need to demonstrate that you are putting in the same amount of effort, if not more, than what you are asking of your team. If they see that you are unfocused in your role as a leader, it can directly impact their own performance.
How can you ask your team to perform at the best of their ability when you don’t deliver your best?
Good leaders lead from the front. Show your people the way by doing it yourself. Leading by example also helps to iron out any problems before they arise. Demonstrating what you want from your team will help to overcome any uncertainties and paying extra attention to those who are struggling will boost confidence and motivate your team to achieve their objectives.
Leadership requires constant effective communication. A leader needs to be able to play towards their people’s emotions ensuring that the message sinks in. A great leader can communicate in a way that their people do the things that their leader wants because they want to do it themselves. You could be communicating clearly, enunciating every word, but if your audience do not relate to what you are saying, you could be misunderstood or disregarded. Everyone communicates and learns in different ways. We have found that using the DISC model, a leader can identify their team’s learning behaviours and adapt their communications to stretch into their people’s styles. This model helps focus on the purpose of the communication and the outcomes. It can support those essential foundational skills we seek in meaningful communication. To know more about the DISC behavioural tool, go to DISCsimple and attend their free live events.
Highly effective communicators share some common attributes succinctly distilled by Forbes in these 10 nuggets of advice to ensure that you are a great communicator too:
Do not say something but mean another. If people do not trust you, they will not open up to you or accept you as their leader. We know trust is not given, it is earned and if you come across as hypocritical or insincere, your reputation will be damaged, and you will lose integrity.
Being open and building meaningful relationships with your people will ensure that your communications are listened to and trusted. They will be more engaged and more likely to listen and follow what you are saying than if you kept them at arm’s length. People will not care about you if they do not feel that you care about them. Create a dialogue with your team, do not issue orders or demands and expect them to be done, begin with a conversation.
Keep your messages simple and concise. Ambiguity gets you nowhere and the more specific you can be the less likely you are to complicate the message. Focus on the main points and don’t get distracted by side issues that are irrelevant to who you are talking to.
When communicating focus on what you can bring to the table, what you contribute, rather than what you get from it. Not only will you be seen as having valuable ideas and contributions, but you will also learn so much more about the other party and be able to inspire action.
Approaching those who may think differently to you and listening to their ideas not to change their mind but to understand their points of view is an effective way of communicating with those who may challenge you. Developing your understanding of differing opinions allows you to look at the bigger picture and having an open mind will only expand your knowledge.
To be an effective communicator, you need to know when you need to talk and when you need to sit back and listen. If you fail to listen to your people, they may return the favour and your message may not sink in and your team will get frustrated and not feel valued. Having a meaningful conversation, a back and forth, will increase engagement and help to build a stronger relationship.
To find out how engaged your team is - visit our partner Engagement Multiplier - they use a tool that helps to give our clients an insight into their employee's opinions providing a framework for companies to measure and improve their people's engagement.
All communication should be done with a sense of empathy instead of arrogance. This is particularly important for difficult and critical conversations. Talking down to someone or demonstrating an over inflated ego is an effective way of losing your people’s respect. They will tiptoe around you and not feel they are able to speak openly and candidly, whereas if you display empathy, you will appear more authentic and transparent building trust with your team.
Good leaders do not only need to communicate their message and listen to what others are saying. They need to know what is not being said. Keeping your eyes and ears open and sitting back to survey the room, you will learn to see the subtext and meaning behind what people are saying and doing. As well as gaining a greater understanding of your team, by honing your observational skills, you will be able to increase your awareness of your organisation and the way it works.
Whatever subject you are talking about, you need to know the facts. Some people may have an existing knowledge and if you are not an expert, they will not give you the time of day. Bluffing your way through a discussion will not work as they will see right through you, denting if not destroying your credibility. Take the time to do your research, know what you’re talking about and ensure you are adding value to the discussion and be honest if you don’t know the answers.
No matter how many people you are talking to, whether it is a small meeting, a massive event, or a one-to-one, you need to make sure that everyone feels you are talking directly to them. Good leaders are able to resonate with everyone in the room and build trust and a rapport with their audience.
Communication is key to every leader and doing so effectively will only better your relationships and build your integrity and respect. Click to read the full Forbes article.
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With the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses have had to adapt to working from home. This became extremely popular with employees and in some businesses, productivity was shown to increase with the introduction of remote working. Business leaders have had to adapt to this and change the way in which they lead their people and keep them motivated whilst only communicating over platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Teams. Even when restrictions were lifted, some people did not want to return to office working, finding the online environment more beneficial as it feels more personal to them.
The onboarding process has also been affected by remote working as new employees, particularly those in the younger generations, according to research, need some social interaction and want to go into work to see their friends and colleagues. Leaders need to provide extra support to these new employees ensuring that they feel like valued members of the company.
Leaders need to show trust. This is crucial when it comes to remote working. They need to trust their team that they will get the job done. Focus on the results and empower their people to manage the processes. Through effective communication clearly define what your expectations are. Without trust, your people will not feel valued or motivated to continue with their work, especially if leaders are micromanaging them.
In a remote working environment leaders need to take care to ensure that their people are not working at all hours, especially when they don’t need to. Agreeing parameters of the working day and restricting the expected times you want your team to be working and when they shouldn’t be. Schedule your emails to arrive within working hours to ensure that your people do not feel pressured to respond immediately and ensure that any communication is only performed in your agreed timescales.
To read more about working from home and leadership, have a look at How Does Remote Working Change The Way You Innovate?
It is important for business leaders to acknowledge and celebrate when their team have done a good job. Even the smallest move towards reaching your end objective is a success and deserves recognition. Do not spend your time focusing your attention on fixing mistakes but instead build on your people’s strengths and applaud their efforts.
Celebrating these wins helps to build morale and encourage your teams. Don’t rush ahead to the next project without acknowledging your people’s hard work. Leaders need to show their gratitude for their people, to reinforce their motivation to move onto the next success. An achievement is also useful in helping you remember what your end goals are and focus on taking the next step towards it.
It is important to understand how you celebrate these successes. Do you just send a quick congratulatory email to those involved? Do you take your team out for a celebratory drink? There are many ways that you can honour your team and their work. Make sure that it matches how big a success it was.
Celebrating your team’s success is a great way to boost morale and make your people feel valued. However, a leader also needs to be mindful for their team’s mental health and wellbeing. Managers and leaders need to consider what is going on in their team’s lives, especially if they are working from home. Their circumstances are all different and leaders need to implement support mechanisms to enable people to be at their best.
Mental health is a very sensitive subject, and a lot of employees may not feel comfortable talking to their boss about how they feel. Ensure that your people know you are there for them and provide a safe space for people struggling to talk to you or a specially trained colleague. Normalising mental health as part of the wellbeing agenda and being open to discussion reduces stress in the workplace.
Brené Brown, a renowned author and sociologist, has researched the power of vulnerability in business leaders. She says: “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” In her research, she has explored how it is connected to a company’s success, helps to build trust with employees and colleagues, and is essential to performance. The focus of her work looks at how there is no shame in being vulnerable and that it is not a sign of weakness. She talks about armoured leadership and the power of removing these constraints bound up in our perceptions of ourselves as leaders. It can be difficult to express how you feel, particularly if you are struggling with a problem, however, being honest with those you work with will help you better your relationship with your colleagues and build respect. When you are vulnerable and communicate how you are feeling, it gives others permission to be open and honest about what is going on in their lives as well, which can then stop problems and issues building up, decreasing stress levels in the workplace.
Vulnerability allows business leaders to be more authentic and create a working environment that fosters a growth-mindset in employees, who feel that they can take risks. This allows for greater innovations as your team will be more open and confident about their ideas. Leaders need to encourage their team to be vulnerable to help build a more effective work culture. As Brené says “keeping it awkward, brave and kind”
Visit Brené Brown's website to learn more about her work and what else she has to say about vulnerable leadership.
Business leaders need to understand what a deliverable strategy looks like and clearly be able to express its objectives to their people. To develop a strategy, you need to understand your end goals and work out how and where you start.
When developing your strategy, you need to lay out everyone’s role so that your team understand their jobs and what is required of them. Delegation is a vital part of being a leader and to be effective, they need to know what to delegate and to who. By understanding their team's strengths and weaknesses, leaders can strategise to maximise on their people abilities, to best achieve their goals. This will help your people work together as a team and see you as part of the team as well.
At hgkc we can help our clients develop their leadership strategy through a series of workshops and facilitated sessions. We helped one client, Friars Moor, prepare for the future by working with their leadership team. We started by helping them understand the role of a director and looked at how they influenced and responded to the business’ objectives and strategy. We looked at where they were on their journey, where they wanted to be, and the steps they needed to take to get there.
hgkc offer our clients a sounding board for their ideas, and we help leaders understand more about who they are as individuals, using DISC profiling. Through a series of workshops and sessions we helped Friars Moor focus on how they could implement their plans to meet their future goals. Our role was to help keep them on track and assist them in measuring their results.
You can read more about Friars Moor’s experience with hgkc by reading their case study.
If you need help developing yourself as a leader, get in touch with our hgkc consultants.
hgkc was born from the realisation that together our combined practical experience and knowledge can offer our clients a broader, deeper and richer experience that will deliver better results faster.