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Some thoughts on Leadership.

It is no secret that happy, high performing teams need quality leadership. Organisations that have depth in leadership are likely to be more successful. To have depth in leadership, all individuals within an organisation should be able to understand and identify what type of behaviours demonstrate good leadership.

If organisational success can be linked to leadership, how then do people become better leaders? I wish there was an easy, one size fits all answer to this as if I did know what it was, I would likely be retired and spending my days in the Caribbean. What I do know is that Leadership is contextual, what works in one situation or organisation may not work in another.

McKinsey defines leadership as a set of behaviours that influence outcomes. Building from that definition, it is easy to see that people lead by demonstrating certain behaviours and skills for example

  • Communicating effectively and actively listening.

  • Engaging with your workforce and inspiring them.

  • Giving clear directions and instructions.

From what I have witnessed, successful leaders

  • Ensure their teams have alignment with the organisations broader strategy and objectives.

  • Execute work consistently and effectively.

  • Seek to renew themselves through consistent learning and development.

How do you become a better leader?

  • From what I have observed, the short answer is by doing. Leadership doesn’t seem to be something that can be taught in the classroom, or be a set of empty theories that one can learn and then practice. Leadership seems to learnt by doing, by living, by failing, by having a go and finding out what works and then adopting your successful behaviours again and again and then adapting these behaviours when the situation changes. The good news is, that whilst you cant learn leadership in the classroom there is no doubt that leadership development can be assisted by coaching and by mentoring when it is done in a way that helps people solve difficult real life problems.

What are the challenges that Leaders face?

  • The biggest challenge that I have seen is for leaders is to adapt their behaviours to new circumstances, as change for many can be really scary and hard to deal with.

  • Another challenge leaders face is that often the behaviours demonstrated to be elevated to a leadership role are not always the behaviours needed for leadership success, as leaders are often first identified for executing well but the skills involved in doing the job well are not always the skills needed to inspire a team. The best leaders seem to those that can develop their behaviour to suit new situations.

What is the biggest roadblocks from leadership elevation?

  • From what I have lived and experienced, it seems to be the individual, yep, I think for many people, myself included, the individual can be the person that stops your own progression. It seems that ones own mindset can be either an enabler or blocker of leadership development. I know that for myself and for countless others the only way through past a certain stop point was a fair amount of self-reflection and also making a number mindset shifts that helped make me be more effective at demonstrating the behaviours required to be a better leader.

Finally as we seek to become better leaders, it is worth remembering what Andy Stanley said

“Leaders who don't listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”

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