The art of Leadership: do less and BE MORE.
The challenge for leaders today is that expectations about leaders are so high. They are in charge, and that means that they must know everything that is going on, being able to wave magical wands to fix anything at a drop of a hat. This expectation acts like catching hooks on leaders, pulling them into doing rather than leading their business.
Leaders to stay leading, must therefore member the golden rule that any business is a group of people delivering something. If you want them to succeed then the leader must create the successful conditions for that success to happen. Leaders therefore must design and build the environment for success, and then make it sustainable, so the environment becomes a stable one to continue that success.
Leaders need to therefore focus on their people leadership skills, not task or output.
Leadership VisionFor leaders to lead they must first identify their core purpose in leading, or as Simon Sinek calls their WHY, why are they running this business? What is their vision for their business, which defines them as a leader, who are they, what do they stand for and ultimately what difference do they intend to make. That clear and shared vision drives the purpose and establishes the direction of travel for everyone. Without a clear vision and purpose leaders are often left dealing with internal politics between differing factions pulling the organisation in differing directions.
Creating balance between work, home and self is an important aspect of leaders. Avoiding being overdriven, having time to think and reflect is vital for leaders to be able to research opportunities, evaluate options and balance their work within their life. Taking on too much, juggling too many competing elements will lead to poor leadership decisions, personal pressures and often leads towards burnout. Balancing your life is a key skill in being a effective leader.
Two Key Skills in Stepping BackThe first key skill of all leaders (except the one-man band business) is that you need to make yourself redundant from all operations. This statement often shocks leaders I work with, but if you are in the business you cannot be working on it, and you cannot be leading it effectively. Do less within the business enables you to do more for the business.
If the business can operate fully without you then you can lead it effectively. This means ensuring you are not critical to how it works, from sales to delivery, from operations to overtime you must not be essential. That means empowering your people to run everything, with the autonomy and responsibility to deliver what the customers needs. The more you empower the simpler the business becomes, and the more rewarding it is for its employees.
Empowering people and letting them fly in their role, frees leaders to walk the floor and see how their people are performing, removing the blockages of the flow (the smoothness of operations) is an important first leadership stage in what is called the servant leadership role.
The second is in looking at developing people, from praising people for doing a good job, and challenging them to develop their own solutions to their problems. Called safe failing, it is allowing people the freedom to try solutions and see what works rather than having to wait for something to fail before it is escalated up to the leadership. While praising people is a positive human touch skill, challenging people to solve their own problems within safe boundaries is a real leadership skill. It takes trust and a changed mindset to encourage people to try to create solutions rather than always asking what to do.
Challenging people to come up with solutions to improve their role, changes the dynamics of employees perceptions of their leaders. How many solutions have you tried is a great way of suggesting that they have not yet find the right solution, and even better might be to point someone in the right way by offering them a resource to go to, or providing a mentor to support their development into a solution.
Leaders work through their people, so how a leader positively influences them is the success of their leadership of that person. Developing a variety of ways to influence people is a key skill of leaders in today's world. having a variety of ways and tools to influence people requires leaders to keep learning how to influence people to drive and support them to do try and do new things.
Leaders must therefore build an effective management team around them who can deliver that vision. Developing an effective team is vital if a leader is to succeed.
Leadership is about being future-focused, hence the requirement to create and sustain your inspiring vision as a leader. Leaders are always looking forwards, assessing tomorrow's market, where and how it is changing and then engineering the business to exceed within tomorrow's business environment.
Leaders are visionary architects, focusing on the big picture and the long-term future. It is for others, the management to do the building. Leaders create the problem, here is where we are going and why, now get us there. It is for the managers and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to develop the execution. As your business grows and you have employees it has different needs of you. The proportion of your time spent on doing is likely to need to decrease as the business grows.