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We all know things are different and, for many, tough with all the changes we’re seeing in the world. Business (and political) leadership is under increasing scrutiny and this trend will continue. Add to this “The Great Resignation” and likely skills shortages in many areas, and better leadership will separate the great companies from the rest.

So, what do we need to do to become better leaders, to lead our businesses to the next level?

From my own several decades of experience, combined with extensive reading and listening to great leaders, I suggest there are six main areas on which leaders need to focus:

  1. Digital Distance – you really don’t need to monitor and respond to digital messages 24 x 7, nor even all hours of the working day. At best, monitoring these is distracting. At worst it’s simply rude to people in meetings with you (whether in person or virtual). Switch off your phone (or leave it on silent, and not visible), check your email no more than 2-3 times a day (having to do so more often indicates you have communication management problems), and only use email for information movement – it is no substitute for real communication.
  1. Silence is Golden – it really is. Listen a lot more than you talk. Ask plenty of questions and think about the answers – being “present’ in the moment. Get comfortable with silence while you listen, or think – thinking aloud can be confusing to your team as they will often not be clear on what direction to take. If you do need to talk through something, do so with people you know well and who know how you work, and not your whole team.
  1. Practice Servant Leadership by this, I mean not the older authoritarian style, but an inclusive, listening one. Ask your team, your customers and your suppliers what you can do for them – you’ll get some great input and ideas from this. Seek out opinions of others at different levels in the business. Make a point of getting out from behind your desk and practicing MBWA (Management By Wandering Around). Speaking with people at all levels means you’re no longer so shielded from the issues and challenges in your business. And when having meetings in your office, try to do so with seating that is placed so the desk is not a barrier, in effect, between you.
  1. Trust the Team – being open and honest about the issues the business is facing, especially when times are tough, gets people working together. Devolve responsibility for decision-making to the lowest level possible for each decision and make the approvals framework (see note 1 below) available so people understand where the different authority levels lie. It’ll not only speed decision making and reduce management workload but make for a more productive team, too, while improving customer service.
  1. Set the Example – not just in the hours of work, but all you do. Be a role model in your behaviour (“Do as you would be done by”), give positive feedback at least 3x more than you do now, look people straight in the eye when talking with them, stop ‘over-egging’ things when you speak by not using amplifying adverbs, be fully present in meetings and conversations. It will make a huge difference.
  1. Think – I’ve said this before, but it really does bear repetition. We don’t give enough time as leaders to thinking. We’re spending too much time being reactionary, rather than proactive. Put time aside in your diary each week for this. Close the door, don’t allow interruptions, and think. Think about the business, about strategy, about where things are headed. Ask yourself questions about what you know about the business, about your presumptions. Are these things real, or are you subliminally covering things up? Do this for an hour a couple of times a week and you’ll be amazed at what it yields.

 

The era of the ivory tower is behind us, as is the old “General” style of leading from the rear. Successful leaders today lead from the front, set the example and are approachable, engaged, open and honest. They develop their teams. They’re in touch with their customers and suppliers as well as with the staff at all levels of their own organisations. They create an environment where people want to work, to give of their best and to be proud of.

Is your business one of these today?

 

#BusinessFitness #CEO #Coaching #Excellence #JobSatisfaction #Leadership #Loyalty #Management #MBWA #Motivation #People #Productivity #Teams #Trust

 

Note 1: If you’d like a sample approvals framework sheet to help you structure your own, press here to send me a note and I’ll send you one.

Some of my other recent short posts on leadership that you might find interesting: