Leadership isn’t about a job title; it’s about having a vision of where you want to go and what you want to achieve… and motivating others to go there with you.
While each organization has its own style and culture, there are some universal elements to being a strong leader:
1. Begin with a Vision. At the highest level, great leaders create a vision for taking their organization to new levels. This can take shape in many ways. It might mean attaining a new level of performance or perhaps launching a new product or service. It can mean taking a very broad goal a senior executive has issued (such as “reduce costs by 30 %”) and creating a new way of organizing work or people to deliver that objective. A vision needs to be compelling – not only for you but for the rest of your team.
2. Understand Where Your Team Is. As you contemplate where you are going, take a hard look at where you are today. This provides the reality check of what will be required to actualize the vision. Understand many of those working for you are going to immediately jump to comparing where they are today to where you planning to take them – and they may feel overwhelmed, particularly if resources are constrained. You will need to create a very compelling picture of where the team is heading. This picture needs to include the WIIFM factor (what’s in it for me…) Why do your people want to stretch beyond what they know to follow you?
3. Create a Path. What are the strategies and tactical actions that will attain the vision? You may not have all the details established at the time you communicate your vision but you will need to have a high level plan of initial steps at minimum.
4. Gain Commitment. John C. Maxwell said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” As you engage others, you need to demonstrate that you care deeply about their role in getting you to the vision. Particularly in times of great change, you need to show you comprehend the impacts. No one wants to follow a leader they perceive as being out of touch with the reality of what’s being asked.
5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Leaders need to constantly be communicating and placing events into context. Ensure you have two-way communication with influential formal and informal leaders. Communicate not only at large meetings, but on a smaller scale where you can observe body language. Create multiple channels for people to communicate with you. Acknowledge both results and efforts.
Business today is constantly changing and evolving. To be an effective leader requires consistently stretching yourself and your vision of what is feasible. Only then can you ask others to stretch themselves to follow you.
If you could use support either in elevating your leadership skills, I’d love to support you. Just email me and we can set up a time to discuss your situation and how I might be able to coach you to a new level of success.