Should you decide you want to be a leader – whether you have been selected to or not – your apprenticeship as a great follower can provide the foundation for that step. However, the risk in this or any transition is that you have not learned how to lead yourself first. An even greater risk is that you have not had any learning or development at all.
Before you can lead others, you will need to lead yourself. While we are stepping into a more philosophical space here, it is important to see the wood and the trees. This mindset will open you up to the next level of leadership learning.
Here are six insights that can underpin your leadership style:
- Manage thoughts. Beware the manifestation of negative thought … remember, as you think, as you are, and as you remain.
- Take initiative. Don’t wait to be asked. Or told.
- Prioritise effective. Busy isn’t effective. Cut out the good for the great.
- Be authentic. Let go of needing affirmation and praise.
- Bring it on. By opening your mind to better thinking and doing, you create a capacity for new information.
- Personal growth. Leaders set targets and prioritise personal growth both mentally and physically.
In business, how often are the great workers ‘promoted’ to managers based on their operational performance only, yet are expected to lead teams of people with various capability, delivering ever-increasing output and managing complex business units for example? Without leadership experience, there is a real possibility the current stakeholder group will become disillusioned by a lack of appropriate interpersonal skills or specific capability required to lead a high-functioning team.
The majority of us want to be part of a success story, and in terms of our impending leadership and the style we will lead with, we need to paint a picture of what winning looks like for us first before we understand what sits behind our how. We need to paint a cognitive picture of how we will optimise and maximise our development and performance.
The five internal queries that will define your leadership style are:
- My impact. What does it mean personally to make a difference?
- My values. What are my values and how do they align, or not, with those of the organisation?
- My capability. What is the most effective way to engage, mobilise and sustain people support and effort?
- My approach. What is my method for overcoming obstacles and diffusing problems?
- My reaction. How will I deal with failure? And with success?
The biggest mistake you can make is creating responses or behaviours that you believe are the best fit for your organisation, rather than for yourself first. These are fundamental responses to, and impacts on, an organisation’s culture. Who’s to say that the organisation has it right? Be prepared to put yourself out there in an environment controlled subtly through both internal and external mentors and a trusted network of feedback.
This is also the type of enquiry framework experienced leaders are recommended to embrace at whatever that relevant point is in their leadership journey.
Authentic reflection and insight as to what moves your leadership needle and where you need to take your ongoing professional development next will ensure your next leadership phase is meaningful at an individual level and successful at an organisational level.
Written by Brian Sands.
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