Think back to an influencer in your life who built you up or tore you down. It might have been a teacher, a sibling, a parent, a leader or even a friend. We’ve all experienced this scenario. Those that build you up set your compass to greatness; those that tore you down smashed the compass.
This may sound a strange analogy for leadership, but given most people spend much of their life in the workplace, it’s important to have leadership that understands the power of holding the direction of others life compass in their hands.
Maybe you are currently working with a leader who falls into one or the other of these two categories.
Leaders should always aspire to take teams from great to exceptional. It isn’t enough to make sure teams have everything they need to be successful and productive. Leaders have a responsibility to identify potential road blocks and move them. Leaders need to be approachable and committed to coaching their people to employ all their talents.
But many leaders are not approachable. Many leaders are driven by rationality, processes, procedures and structures. So, does this style of leadership close innovation? Does this approach to leadership break the life compass? Not necessarily! But it does require leadership to be self-aware.
An important first step, if leaders really want to understand their leadership style, is to buy into a validated 360-degree process. This is a process through which feedback is gathered from a leader’s subordinates, colleagues, and, in the case of some senior leaders, their board. It includes the leader’s own self-evaluation, against which the wider outcomes can be measured.
The primary objective of this 360-degree process, is to create a heightened self-awareness of your leadership strengths and struggles and approach. It highlights areas to develop and ways in which greater relationships can be built with those you lead.
When leadership is behaviorally self-aware and builds the practice of self-awareness into their teams, every individual knows how leadership and individuals can work more effectively together. People understand how to manage their own approach and understand that leaders don’t always have all the answers to challenges the business faces. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to lead from a position of rationality; other times their style is collaborative.
It never ceases to amaze how many organizations rely on groups of people (teams) to deliver significant outcomes for their business, yet invest few resources in to understanding the behaviors, communication style and working environment requirements of individual members and, importantly, the leadership.
Even the smallest organization should invest in a scientifically based data gathering process to know, engage and grow their people. Why? Understanding leadership styles together with the talent and behavior of individuals is what takes businesses from mediocre to success.
We all have inherent go-to behaviors that can be revealed and managed. Without this insight into yourself you could well be tearing down individuals, almost inadvertently. Your leadership style could well be burning your people.
When all talents and behaviors are revealed – this provides an opportunity, not only to build great teams, but also to match individuals to management style that are better suited to building them up.
Without crucial insights, a leader whose style is fast-paced, for example, is unlikely to carry others with them, as they are probably overwhelming team members who just can’t keep up with faced-paced thinking or movement.
Behavioral insights can empower individuals to be their own leaders. Giving them strategic direction and making yourself available to answer questions could produce great results and leave senior leadership free to concentrate on strategy and building business opportunities. It all begins with a behavioral insights tool to reveal the talents and behaviors of the people you lead.
This approach to leadership encourages individuals to buy into ownership of decisions, plans and outcomes.
As a leader people look to you, not just for leadership, but also how you live. Regardless of your leadership style, others will follow when they see values, integrity and fairness in their leaders. This should be as big a consideration for leadership as is the need to be behaviorally self-aware.