Successful teams, whether in business, sports, or life in general benefit greatly from strong leadership. Far from simply deciding what needs to be done and delegating work, leadership is a complex ball game requiring a multitude of skills and attributes that aren’t always clear from the get-go. To help you nail down your own leadership abilities, I’ve put together my three key leadership tips which will help you lift your team’s game and get the most out of your work.
Tip #1: The Number One Job of a Leader
Part of leading, arguably the most integral part, is knowing what leaders do and what leadership is. It seems obvious, but many of us struggle to define our role as leaders and in failing to do so are unable to capitalise on our team’s potential. In working with business owners and leaders over long stretches of time, we finally reach the point at which they are working on their business instead of in their business. It’s a key step towards greater success, and it allows those in charge to take a step back from the day to day work of employees and business as usual, vital as it is, and take to look at the big picture. With this big picture, there comes a very common question: “What is my job now?”
The ultimate outcome of a leader’s work has to be trusted. If nothing else, a leader who can maintain trust within their team will benefit immensely from an environment in which members are willing to tell the truth, ask for help, and put their ideas forward. All teams are fundamentally networks of conversation, and a leaders role in a team where they have established trust becomes to facilitate conversation - especially the “unspoken” conversations.
Unspoken conversations run through every team; they are the “I’m not happy”, they are the rumours, and as a leader, one must get those conversations out onto the table and address them appropriately in order to hold people accountable and keep team morale high. That is the great job of a leader, when you facilitate those conversations, when you hold people accountable, when you maintain communication within the team and have those tough talks, you build trust. Teammates who trust one another get a lot further than those who don’t - trust me.
Tip #2: How to be Inspirational to others
The job of a leader is to have the unspoken conversation in order to develop trust. It’s simple enough, but for many leaders it’s not easy. Why isn’t it easy? Because often, we are afraid to have those conversations. It can be scary, and so part of being inspirational to others is identifying your own fears and their causes, and then dealing with them in a healthy way.
When I work with businesses, we always move forward from a one-page business plan. But over the years, it became apparent to me that often it was necessary to have a personal development plan for the individuals in the management teams. In each and every one of those personal plans is a section dedicated to spiritual health - it’s about being centered.
Centredness and calmness are often considered, as is shown in a number of polls, one of the most inspirational traits of a leader. How do we become centered? We identify our fears and their causes, and we deal with them. Leadership fears more often than not come down to one or a combination of three things: fear of failure, fear of conflict, or fear of rejection. Any one of those fears is going to prevent a leader from engaging in the tough talks and hard conversations required to facilitate the trust we talked about above. A leader who is afraid to lead, for whatever reason, isn’t going places like a leader who is calm, centered, and an inspiration to those around them.
Tip #3: How To Measure Your Success as a Leader
Once you’ve put these first steps into practice you need to be able to measure whether or not the work you’re putting in as a leader is garnering the results you need it to. Many would assume that the best measure of your success, and by extension your team’s success, is profitability. While this is always a handy indicator you should always be keeping an eye on, it’s not the be all and end all.
Longitudinal business studies suggest that CEOs make up about 15% of a business’s results for better or for worse. That means there are more significant measures of success one could use to get an idea of the situation. In my opinion, the best two measures of success are one that focuses on your team, and one that focuses on your customers. For your team, a survey like the Gallup Q12 gives your team 12 questions to measure their engagement with your business and helps point you in the right direction. For a measurement of your customer base, the Net Promoter Score - “Ona scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product or service to family or friends?” It’s a valuable question, and it tells you who is engaged with your business. Accompanied by a question asking the customer to explain why they answered the way they did, this survey not only gives you a research-backed indication of how likely an individual is to engage your services again, but also gives you a clear answer as to what you can change or develop to retain or expand your consumer base.
Leadership can be a daunting business, but the rewards of strong leadership cannot be overstated. These are my top three tips for helping you realise your leadership potential, and they have been tried and trued with many business owners and leaders over the years. For more on this topic, keep your eyes peeled for one of the many leadership workshops that I host, where you can get a more in-depth and hands-on engagement with the key steps to becoming a great leader.