In the last article I covered the three key leadership behaviours of ‘competence’, ‘emotional maturity’ and ‘leading change’. A very large Australian company where I had worked with dedication and loyalty for 10 years employed a new competent General Manager, but unfortunately he lacked emotional maturity and couldn’t engage the hearts and minds of his employees with regard to change. The end result, I and many others bugged out rather quickly. It demonstrates the importance of being effective in all 12 key leadership behaviours, not just some of them. Retention of key employees is critical.
10. Sharing the Pathway
Seeds will germinate in the dark, but crops won’t grow and yield without sunlight. Employees are the same. You will not get the best out of them by keeping them in dark. People need to feel wanted and connected, because they want to understand how their daily tasks and input is helping to shape a better future. It ‘connects them’, and without this connection they are unlikely to come to work with a real desire to assist the business to move forward.
The General Manager preceding the bloke I mentioned above used a very simple but highly effective method to engage his 240 staff. Every quarter he would hold a number of ‘pathway’ presentations around the country. The ‘pathway’ was exactly that, a three year diagrammatic path leading to a better future; revenue, profit, market share, return on net assets, employee numbers, and other key objectives. Along the pathway were diagrammatic representations of key strategies; new manufacturing facilities, new product introductions, new registrations for existing products, changes to the sales channel structure, new marketing campaigns, proposed new suppliers and key employee events. At the same time he would share the company results for the preceding quarter.
Talk about engaging the hearts and minds of his troops; we would walk out of those meetings thinking about new ways to smack the competition! It was highly motivating. His call to action at the end of each meeting was ’be number one but always act like you’re number two’.
It’s up to you what level of information your share with your team, but you must share.
11. People Development
A wise man once said ‘it’s better to train your people and have then eventually leave, than not train them and have them stay’. Or as Richard Branson puts it, ‘train your people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to’.
Those leaders that have heard of Abraham Maslow’s 1954 theory of ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ know that self-actualisation sits at the top, followed by esteem. Maslow was a 1900’s psychologist who studied positive human qualities and the lives of exemplary people. Self-actualisation is basically the need to achieve one’s full potential, and esteem is the need for a feeling of accomplishment.
Now I’m not sure whether these two needs sit high on the list of some of the characters we see roaming suburban streets after hours, but they definitely sit high on the list for the type of employee we wish to have on our team. What I’m saying is you must invest in the development of your good people because they want to learn and improve their knowledge and abilities. They want to achieve and they want to feel a sense of accomplishment. They are likely to disappear at some stage if you don’t provide them with these opportunities.
It’s your responsibility as a leader to develop your people. It’s easy to come up with excuses or reasons not to, but remember that they are your competitive advantage. Why wouldn’t you invest in sustainability!
Developing your people comes in many shapes and forms including performance feedback and coaching, product training, efficiency training, competency or skill training, and leadership training and mentoring. You need to identify the gaps in your business, so that you can identify the required development.
If you have employees in a ‘management’ position, then for goodness sake get them some leadership training. Good employees leave because of an inadequate relationship with their manager.
The other really important part of people development is succession planning for key roles. I see it a lot where a business will be humming along quite nicely, then bang, someone in a critical position leaves and it throws the place into turmoil because there is no one ready to slide into that key role. I encourage you to think ahead, ear-mark people for key role succession and develop them. If your business size or structure makes that difficult, then you must have in place a really good recruitment process.
We’ve heard it a thousand times, ‘your people are your greatest asset’. It’s true.
12. Moral Courage
Some might argue it’s more of a way of being or personality trait than a behaviour, but I’ve included it because as leaders we must absolutely demonstrate it in all we do. I’ve saved this one until last folks because it’s the behaviour that underpins all the preceding eleven behaviours.
As leaders we need to be strong and sometimes assertive, and this takes courage. As leaders we need to make really hard and sometimes highly unpopular decisions, and this takes courage. As leaders we need to communicate crystal clear expectations and hold people accountable, and this takes courage. As leaders we need to build the desired culture and have high level emotional maturity, and this takes courage. As leaders we need to set a direction and drive change and action, and this takes courage. I think you get the picture.
Leaders fail when moral courage is missing. With moral courage you will do what you believe to be right while upholding your values, regardless of the personal consequences. With moral courage you will face the future with a solid resolve to succeed. With moral courage you will maintain composure under pressure which will allow you to peer through the smoke, and hence allow you to stay focussed on your core business.
Believe in yourself and be courageous.
That brings us to the end of this four part leadership series. Remember, good leadership is largely about confidence and believing that you can be a good leader. As with everything in life, to be good at it takes practice and dedication to the cause. It’s not something that happens over night, but if you work hard on the twelve leadership behaviours and have a tool for consistently self-assessing your leadership, you will become a better leader.
Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you my leadership assessment tool.
All the best.
Raffino Business Solutions
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