Leadership can be challenging, and those who do it well have often travelled through the school of hard knocks to get there - trial and error, learning to successfully navigate rapidly evolving business landscapes, and growing leadership skills that allow them to inspire and motivate others. Sadly, only 10% of people are born natural leaders; the rest of us will need to approach leadership with a growth mindset if we want to excel in the role.
Much is expected from today’s leaders. They need to create compelling visions and help their teams get there using a myriad of approaches to suit any given situation or environment. But leaders are continuously navigating uncharted territory in today’s business world, where adaptability is the new competitive advantage. Trial and error, and the inevitable missteps, will happen, but how we move through them, and get back on track, is how leaders grow and evolve.
It’s important to remember what makes a great leader. In terms of key values, empathy, humility, and integrity are significant. When it comes to behaviors, at the top of the list are transparent communication, a well articulated and documented vision (alongside plans on how to get there), empowering your team members, and leading by example.
When things fall off the rails, the starting point is through introspection: asking how your own approaches to issues have fallen out of alignment with great leadership. It’s about looking critically at what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it. The ‘what’ speaks to the need to lead your organization and work on nurturing and growing it, not about working ‘in’ your organization. The ‘how’ speaks to the behaviors you use to carry out your day-to-day activities.
For some introspection, consider these questions:
- How much autonomy do I give my team to do what they need to do, without interference from me?
- Do I trust my team members? If not, why?
- Am I available to my team members when they need me?
- Do I provide a clear game-plan for others to follow and then help them remove roadblocks, or am I changing the goal posts too often?
- Am I creating the culture that I want? And if not, why?
- Do I have appropriate expectations and consider all the internal and external factors that may impact deliverables?
- Have I properly prepared my team?
- Do I lead by example? Do I have some behaviors that may not reflect well on me?
No one is perfect, and no one expects perfection in their leader. Acknowledging your mistakes can sometimes be difficult, but it’s taking ownership and being accountable that will set you apart and well on the way to the path forward. The courage it can take to be fully transparent with your team about the state of the business, or about your own mistakes, or to ask for their help, is where it should start. Good leaders not only lead, but they help develop more and better leaders. And it starts with you.