In the second part of this three-part series we tackled three important leadership behaviours of “Setting the Tone”, “Walking the Talk” and “Fairness.” Aspiring leaders often make the mistake of trying very hard to be popular or to be liked, rather than aspiring to be effective. Concentrating on being nice can turn you into a weak leader, when strong leadership is what employees need, as well as assertive leadership in some cases. It is natural to want to be liked, but let it be the outcome or side benefit, not a leadership objective. If you strive to consistently exhibit the 12 primary leadership behaviours then you will be popular and be liked.
Have you encountered a boss or a manager that you think is less competent than you? If yes, you were probably less motivated to take their lead. For leaders, this is a likely scenario if you are perceived to be incompetent by your people.
Being competent doesn’t require you to know how to do everything, but it does require you to know what to do and the ways to accomplish it. An inept leader has several occasions to be ineffective. Competency is not an ability that is achieved quickly. It entails a mix of experience and knowledge seeking and retention. There are three important areas of knowledge:
- Operational knowledge – the way every business function works – areas where the business is weak and how to resolve them
- Strategic knowledge – what course to lead the business, why and how
- Compliance and risk knowledge – what government policies that need to be adhered to, like the Fair Work Australia, and the kind of business risk to deal with and how, like Workplace Health & Safety risks
Good leadership does not require you do it all alone. It involves knowing specifically where you are competent, strong and weak, as well as recognising what expertise you need and what knowledge to acquire. Competent leaders gain confidence, trust and loyalty, so if you are lacking in any strategic, operational, compliance or risk knowledge, then endeavour to expand your knowledge in your weak areas.
It is vital because it is the foundation of making good decisions and choices. It also allows leaders to see through the haze and determine real from fake. To quote the philosopher Socrates, ‘the person who clearly knows and articulates best what ought to be done is the person who will most easily gain the following of others’.
Finally, avoid upstaging or embarrassing another person when you show competence. At the end of the day, leadership concerns the success of your employees, not you.
8. Emotional Maturity
Also known as emotional intelligence, this is a leader’s knack for understanding and managing their emotions, and those of his employees. A highly emotionally intelligent leader recognises what they are feeling and the reason for it, and how to control those feelings so they don’t have a negative impact on others. You may also call this “self-awareness” and “self-management.” Specifically, this involves feeling calm under pressure.
Once again being consistent is essential in this case. Workers don’t like to have a boss who is Dr. Jekyll one day and a Mr. Hyde the next. They want to know what your expectations are for them, so communicate predictably. Using a communication style that is objective, pleasant, calm, collaborative, positive and respectful will let you get the best out of your people because they need to feel important. Negativity, yelling, criticisms, cynicism, interrupting, impatience and self-righteousness are examples of emotional immaturity. These behaviours undermine leadership.
Aspiring leaders usually have emotional maturity “blind spots”, meaning they’re not aware of how they are acting or communicating and how it is impacting their team members. Or worse, they know the harmful effect of their communication style and elect not to change. It’s weakens leadership either way.
So how do you change it? First, understanding the four major personality types, and how to recognise them, is vital. Second, you can improve your emotional intelligence through training workshops and online assessment tools. This is a life skill that offers relationship building benefits far outside mere good leadership.
9. Change Agent
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” Henry Ford once said. You need to lead change to survive and flourish in an ever increasing competitive business environment. Lead change until it is manifested in your business culture. Raise the bar and expand your business by encouraging a culture of constant improvement and initiative.
Change success is not limited to just setting a new path or creating a new strategy. For instance, you can outline the best development approach to implement. However, it usually fails due to poor implementation. This happens when leaders fail to involve the hearts and minds of the people tasked with carrying out the change.
Resistance is normally an employee’s first reaction to change. The reason is they become comfortable doing assignments they know, the way they execute it. Being comfortable makes them feel secures as they are bosses of their environment. Often they fear change because they think it will harm them or upset their comfort zone. They could also be feeling like they don’t have what it takes to adapt, their work may become more difficult, or they might fail to remain in control of their environment. The last one is significant.
Leaders must eliminate their people’s fears so they can advance from an attitude of change evasion to change acceptance. How can this be accomplished?
First, persuade them that change is needed by conveying to them what is not working and what effect it is spreading and will be spreading across business performance and the business’ competitive position.
Second, make them realise the benefits from the change. These may include acquiring new skills, the reassurance of being a member of a more competitive organisation, or less issues they need to resolve every day.
Third, make them feel confident by showing that support will be available to them throughout the process, that a good change process will be implemented, and that their ideas and effort will have a massive role in the change success.
Once again, encourage a culture of change and constant improvement. Instil in your team to take initiative and think of better ways of executing tasks, daily.
Continue reading the part 4 of this article.
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