As a leader, I’ve found there are a few leadership behaviours that can empower your organisation and nurture a positive workplace culture. In contrast, there are some that can disengage your community and disrupt well made plans.
In recent years, I’ve made a habit of consciously reminding myself of three leadership truths; to ensure I’m demonstrating the right behaviours and enabling engagement, productivity, and performance at all levels across the organisation.
Truth #1: Listen! You won’t have all the answers. Being a leader doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have all the answers all of the time – and nor should you.
If you go into every meeting ready to listen, with an open mind, everyone will get an opportunity to present their ideas and you will get the chance to really hear them. By creating space for people to come at things in their own way, new ideas are generated, creating unexpected breakthroughs that benefit the team, the project – and the business. This approach is also additive – it enables you to layer on different people’s ideas for better outcomes.
It’s empowering for people to see that their ideas are valued. As a leader, it also makes you more human and approachable. I’m a great believer in being as human as you can, because it creates a powerful trickle-down effect that flows through an organisation, building trust, mutual respect and understanding across all levels.
Truth #2: Learn! You will always be a work in progress. At Insights, we believe that learning is lifelong. That’s because, if we are open to it, there’s a learning opportunity in everything you do, in every interaction you have. The more you learn about yourself, about others, how you are perceived by others, and how to adapt and connect, the more successful you’ll be in work – and life.
As a leader I always remind myself to stay curious. Staying curious means always recognising that you are a work in progress and never thinking you are the finished article. It means asking questions, and unashamedly drawn on the wisdom of others.
I have loved relying on the expertise of the fabulous people whom I have had the pleasure to work with. Having worked across a number of diverse sectors, its an imperative human skill to be open with my team about what I know, what I don’t know and what I need to know to support strategy, decision making and build an empowered culture.
The next layer is to consider how your team can leverage individual expertise in a team environment – after all, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I have very deliberately built diverse teams and then focused time and effort on spending time for the brilliance of the collective to shine.
I’ve also invested in myself, developing greater self-awareness. That’s because increased self-awareness helps you ‘show up’ in a more authentic way – making better connections and delivering business outcomes.
Truth #3: Leap! Leadership is 90% coaching, 10% providing solutions. The challenge for all leaders, is knowing when it’s part of the 90% and when it’s part of the 10% – when you need to leap in and intervene.
Leaders, including me, have a tendency to leap in all too often, we want to help, be involved and be part of a solution. That’s a great human quality but it can perpetuate a cycle of having inputs coming to us to tweak, correct and ‘add value’. However, if we jump in too often or too quickly, people will start to doubt their own ability and look to you more and more creating a cycle of dependency. This makes leaders feel great that we are ‘helping’ but builds a hierarchy and a culture of working which can create bottlenecks and disempowers decision making.
Conversely, it is empowering for people to be relied upon and that their judgement can be trusted without the ‘check-in’ with the boss. For them to be responsible for their own development and growth – and to feel that their unique contribution is valued. That builds trust and inevitably results in a strong organisational culture. When that happens, talented people are drawn to you, as a leader, and to your organisation – and they stick with you, through thick and thin.
These are three leadership truths I’ve learned and come to rely on. They can be hard to learn and challenging to apply, but by regularly drawing on them, we’ll be successful in the new world of work.
Written by Fiona Logan.
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