What is a leader? Based on the volumes of research out there and my professional experience of the good and bad out there in the business world, I would say a good leader is made up of many skills and qualities. If a business’ success depends on good leadership, surely there is an equal argument that the success is as a result of good ‘followership’.
If your people got the chance to choose their leader, would they still choose you?
So for me, the priority of a leader is to get your people beside you, willing to be part of your team. You do this firstly by being someone they respect and trust, so they need to know a bit about your values, knowledge and principles. You also need to support them and do what you say you’re going to do for them.
Most adults like to know that what they are doing makes a difference somewhere along the way, so tell them what you and the business is all about, in other words, ‘the vision’ and how they’ll fit in. Tell them about it in a passionate and inspiring way – perhaps adapting the means of communication and the ‘story’ to your audience. To do that, you need to know your audience, so effective leaders will have regular, formal and informal, opportunities to meet their employees at all levels across the business.
Value and nurture the talent around you. Let others shine by setting the overall goal and then stepping back and letting them get on with what they are good at, and what you’ve employed them for.
Leadership skills come easy only to a minority. Most of the effective leaders I’ve worked with are those that shine a mirror on themselves regularly and recognise that they don’t know it all. They appreciate the talent around them, and that the success of the team is down to the team that they are a part of.
Most importantly they are interested in developing themselves. They get regular feedback on themselves from trusted colleagues or external mentors, they take time to develop their own skills, and they admit when they get things wrong.
So, would your people choose you given the choice? Are you brave enough to ask them?