In last week’s article I covered the three key leadership behaviours of ‘Setting the Tone’, ‘Walking the Talk’ and ‘Fairness’. One of the mistakes that aspiring leaders often make is trying too hard to be liked or to be popular, as opposed to being effective. Focussing on being likeable can lead to weak leadership, but what employees need and what works is strong leadership, and where required, assertive leadership. The need to be liked is natural, but make it a side benefit or outcome, not a leadership goal. If you work hard on consistently displaying the 12 key leadership behaviours then you will be liked and you will be popular.
Have you ever worked for someone you perceived to be less competent than you? If so, the chances are that you were less inclined to follow their lead or direction. This will potentially be the case with those you lead if they believe you are incompetent.
Competence doesn’t mean that you need to know how to do everything in the business, but it does mean you need to know what to do and how to get it done. An incompetent leader has many opportunities to be ineffective. Competency is not something that occurs overnight. It is a combination of experience and knowledge seeking and retention. The three key areas of knowledge required are:
- Operational knowledge – how each business function works, where the weaknesses lie and how to overcome them.
- Strategic knowledge – what direction to take the business, why and how.
- Compliance and risk knowledge – what external rules and regulations you need to comply with, e.g. Fair Work Australia, and what business risks to manage and how, e.g. WH&S risks.
Effective leadership is not about going it alone, but it is about knowing where your competence, strengths and weaknesses lie, and therefore knowing what expertise to surround yourself with, and what knowledge to gain. Competence engenders confidence, trust and loyalty in a leader so if you have any operational, strategic, compliance or risk knowledge gaps then work hard to improve your knowledge of these areas.
It is vitally important because it is the cornerstone of making well thought through decisions and good choices. It also enables you to peer through the smoke and understand what’s real and what’s not. To paraphrase the Greek philosopher Socrates – ‘the person who clearly knows and articulates best what ought to be done is the person who will most easily gain the following of others’.
A final word on competence; use care to never upstage or embarrass someone else as you demonstrate competence. In the end, leadership is about the success of your people, not about you.
8. Emotional Maturity
Otherwise known as emotional intelligence, this is your ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. Leaders with a high degree of emotional intelligence know how they are feeling and why, and how to regulate those emotions so they don’t impact negatively on other people. This is otherwise known as self-awareness and self-management. In a nutshell it’s about being calm under pressure.
Again consistency is critical here. Employees don’t want to be led by Dr Jekyll one day and Mr Hyde the next. They need to know what to expect so communicate predictably. You will get the best out of them if your communication style is objective, calm, pleasant, positive, collaborative, passionate and respectful because they need to feel valued. Criticism, yelling, negativity, interrupting, cynicism, self-righteousness and impatience are all examples of emotional immaturity. They are leadership killers.
It’s common for aspiring leaders to have emotional maturity ‘blind spots’, that is, they are unaware of their behaviour or communication style and the impact it is having on those they are trying to lead. Or worse, they are aware of the negative impact of their communication style, and choose not to modify it. Either way it’s a leadership killer.
So what to do about it? Firstly it’s very beneficial to understand the four primary personality types, and how to identify them. Drop me an email and I can share a useful tool for this with you. Secondly, there are numerous training workshops and on-line assessment tools available for emotional intelligence improvement. It is a life skill that has relationship building benefits far beyond just effective leadership.
9. Change Agent
Henry Ford once said ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’. In an ever increasingly competitive business environment you must absolutely lead change to survive and prosper. You need to lead change to the point where it should be reflected in the culture of your business. You need to instil a culture of continuous improvement and initiative so you can raise the bar and make your business better than it was yesterday, every day.
Change success is not just about setting a new direction or developing a new strategy. For example, you can map out the best growth strategy going around however strategy commonly fails because of poor implementation. Poor implementation occurs because leaders fail to engage the hearts and minds of the employees responsible for implementing the change.
Often an employee’s first reaction to change is to resist it. This is because they get comfortable performing tasks they know, the way they know how to do it. This comfort provides them with security as they are masters of their environment. They will often fear change because they perceive it will impact on them negatively, or disrupt their comfort zone. They may even feel that they don’t have the capability to adapt, their job might become harder or they might lose control of their environment. The last one is a biggy.
You need to remove their fear so they move from an attitude of change avoidance to change acceptance. So how can you do this? Firstly you need to convince them of the need to change by communicating what’s not working and the impact it is having or will have on the performance of the business, and its competitive standing. Secondly they then need to see a benefit from the change for themselves. These may be things such as learning new skills, the security of being part of a more competitive business, or less problems that they need to deal with on a daily basis. Thirdly they need to have confidence by knowing that they will be supported through the change, there is good change process in place, and that their input and effort will play a significant part in change success.
Again, I encourage you to instil a culture of change and continuous improvement. Encourage your team to use their initiative to come up with better ways of doing things, every day.
In the final article I will be covering ‘Sharing the Pathway’, ‘People Development’ and ‘Courage’.
Until then, rate yourself on the above three leadership behaviours and identify an improvement action for each one that you can implement immediately to become a better leader.
Get at it.
All the best.
Raffino Business Solutions
We are proud to partner Marsh Tincknell to assist their clients in reaching their goals and attaining freedom. Please contact your manager at Marsh Tincknell on 3422 8000 to discuss how Raffino may be able to assist.