Let Your Leadership Light Shine
So here’s a little ‘food for thought’ for our community of leaders dedicated to transforming themselves, their cultures, their businesses, and their communities.
Six Keys To Leading in Your Professional Life
1. “A Leader is a Dealer in Hope”
Without a Vision people will perish. But it’s time to focus on something other than cost cutting or survival. Eg: a chance to “test our resilience” or an “opportunity to create awesome teamwork.” Talk about the current reality by all means and then add what “we” are doing to address it. Demonstrate that you have a plan and are executing it.
2. “Get Even Fitter For Growth”
After experiencing many years of stable, if not prosperous, conditions some organisations have become complacent. Capacity and efficiency ‘weaknesses’ that we’re not really an issue in the past are starting to emerge.
The G.F.C. (Global Financial Crisis) is a “gift” to get the balance right again.
There’s never been a better time to tidy up your desk, your office, your processes. Start innovating. Spend more time coaching your team. If the top line has fallen behind, then focus on profitability as a percentage of turnover. Be more diligent with every activity and ask; “How will this get us the outcomes we’re after?”
If you’re not growing, then enhance your capacity for growth. It (the GFC) will end! Where will you and your team be when it does?
3. “More Connections Less Controls”
Some businesses are going ballistic putting controls on people and expenses. They are unconsciously building cultures of compliance and consequences, rather than commitment and community.
Sure controls are vital but they have to be balanced with bringing people together, sharing their stories, gaining support and understanding others’ worlds.
There has never been a better (or more important) time to break down the silos.
In tough times, we need each other. I’ve been through them myself. Pain shared really is pain divided. Perhaps the most important role of a leader – in theses times – is to host communities where people support each other and the business.
“Performance in any domain rides on the restoration of community” – Peter Block
4. “Let Your People Shine”
Some companies are cutting all training and development. People have even stopped informal coaching and mentoring. There has been less attention to Performance Planning and Review.
Don’t fall into this trap!
Development is not just training workshops, give people a chance to shine. Think of all the activities you are doing that would be great development opportunities for your direct reports. Share the load, or as we say in our “Engage” workshop, stop “sucking it up!”
Make a commitment to yourself that you’ll have at least one or two people ready to take on your role by the time the GFC ends. Start “Lunch and Learns”, just one hour of development time a week can make a huge difference. Remember; “a little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing”.
5. “Create Meaning”
Many leaders are totally focused on “cash flow” and trying to keep peoples’ jobs. This is essential, yet no where near enough.
People are desperate for permanence in a world of increasing instability and change. There has never been a better time to re-emphasise your Higher Purpose as a business. The numbers may have changed but don’t let this deter you from shouting your Vision and Mission from the rooftops.
Strengthen your culture, revisit it and check on all the systems, symbols and behaviours that reinforce what you stand for. Get your “middles” (middle managers) together; they are the conduit of success for your business. Keep them energised. Get the Top Team together and have them really, really look at their behaviour. Are they modelling the values they espouse?
Let people know where they fit in and how they make a difference. Everyday they should know and be thinking “What I do counts, therefore I count. My role and my life have meaning”.
6. “Show Up”
“80% of success in life is just showing up” – Woody Allen
Many Senior Leaders are so stressed they’ve retreated into their leadership bunkers (GONG! Thanks for playing). Get out there. Lead from the front. Walk the floor of a morning.
You’ll never get people to follow you if they never see you. Visibility leads to credibility. Show up for Friday drinks, at various team meetings and at social occasions.
And when you do show up, actually show up. Get present, really listen, and turn off that darn Blackberry for Pete’s sake. The world won’t care (it’s beginning to give you O.C.D, or so your people are saying).
Get Present wherever you are. Be there!
Give real feedback in real time. Let people know exactly how they are performing, the good, the bad, the ugly. Make a commitment that every time you do “show up” you’ll give someone some feedback that will help them grow and be at their best.
Six Keys to Leading in Your Personal Life
1. “Count Your Blessings”
Don’t turn up at or stay at “pity parties” where everybody gets together and reconfirms how bad things are. If your self worth is dependent on your net worth, most of us would have all lost a lot of “self esteem” over the last six months.
You are bigger than this. What you focus on grows. So give thanks for the things you do have in your life: your health; your family; your friends; your passion; your resilience; your love of life.
Be a “joy” to be around. Frame every conversation in possibilities rather than problems. Maybe it’s the world telling you it really is time to spend more time with just you, or family and friends. Get physically fit, really, really fit. In fact become healthier than you’ve ever been before.
2. “Say Less, Stand Behind it More”
People don’t know you by your intentions; they know you by your actions and it’s often the little ones that count:
Say please, thank you, hello like you mean it.
Make fewer promises and keep more commitments.
Be on time with reports, for meetings, for your family.
Make your promises sacred commitments.
Don’t go on and on about what you are going to do, “Just Do It” as Nike says.
One of the keys to great leadership is to demonstrate, not just advocate your values or what you stand for. Don’t talk about “being all in this together”, roll your sleeves up and get in and help.
“Don’t ask if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Go down there and light the bloody thing yourself” – Sara Henderson
3. “Legitimise the Bitch”
Don’t have a total “No Bitching” rule or the complaints will go underground and end up biting you. People will be afraid to tell you the truth because of fear of retribution.
Yes, have a “bitch” by all means. But catch yourself if you are going overboard. Remain primarily a ‘Player’, not a ‘Victim.’ Let people get it off their chests. But don’t let it go on forever, set boundaries around it. Have a “Bitch & Switch” session every so often on what’s not working (bitch) how we can change it (switch).
Let people “bitch” together; once again with boundaries. If not they’ll do it behind your back anyway. Remember, if you have some bad news to deliver, do it “face to face”. Information without personal contact is not communication for the “tough issues”.
4. “Get a Default Buddy”
The worst leaders I see are going ballistic; they are out of control, showing reactions of fear, not faith.
I think the GFC is like “wealth” or lots of money. It doesn’t necessarily make you arrogant or more compassionate; it just makes you more of who you are already.
The GFC can bring out the worst in you, if you are not aware of your default response to stress. You could sulk, get angry, withdraw, become chaotic or try to escape, all without even knowing you are doing it.
Your “default buddy” is someone close to you, who you’ve given the OK to whisper in your ear and say “Stop it; you’re up to your old tricks again”. You’ve crossed the threshold.
And remember, don’t shoot the messenger. A loving partner or friend is great at this, but you have to listen to their advice.
5. “Keep Yourself Energised”
When the going gets tough it’s easy to fall back into old “addictive” behaviours or short term compensatory mechanisms to alleviate the stress and anxiety.
Some people have started over drinking again, they’re back on the fags, they’re having one too many servings of desert, they’re yelling at people. Their back and knees are collapsing under the strain (no kidding, I can’t tell you how many leaders, especially men, seem to be suffering from back problems at the moment).
Your energy has a huge impact on you, your team, your culture and your results.
Get back to the basics: lots of water; exercise 3 times a week; two pieces of fruit a day; healthy snacks throughout the day; a good night’s sleep. Reconnect with your passions, your hobbies, and your family. Spend time with nature.
Look out for our upcoming MP3 downloads, “The Energised Leader” and our “Leaders for Life” series.
Have something to look forward to every day, every week, every month, every quarter, and every year. Schedule these events in your diary and make them as important as meetings with your top clients.
6. “Choose Your Attitude”
I’m absolutely convinced “it’s all mental”. Some people read the Financial Review and then choose their attitude based on the economic news of the day. What a way to live your life!
Your mind-set is the one thing you can control. And it’s not just “happy, happy”, its pragmatic optimism. “Yes it’s bad and what can we do?” “Yes we’ve lost on shares and how can we get it back?” “Yes we’re bleeding cash and where can we apply a tourniquet?”
This is the toughest ask of all. It’s so easy to chuck in the towel, say it’s all too much, “bugger it and bugger off”. But that’s what these times are for. They’re here to test you; they’re here to take you to the next level. Because without this pressure, you may never have stopped, never have reflected, never have taken your performance to the next level, never have read this far.
So there we have it, twelve ideas to “Let Your Leadership Light Shine”.
We’re all in this together. You’re counting on them and they’re counting on you.
And so am I!
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What Others are Saying
I think this article is great. Not only some key points that I can take as immediate actions but also timely.
Katri Bloomfield, Solution Architect, SAP
I loved your article. It really struck a few chords with me right now. And while, quite honestly, I "know" everything you wrote about, hearing it all expressed in such a friendly and casual way, and all together, I paid so much more attention to the messages.
Stacey Bar, Performance Measure Specialist, Stacey Barr Pty Ltd