Brilliant Leadership – Four pivotal leadership behaviours for tough times
Leadership is always in demand, and even more so when faced with crises such as the one we now find ourselves in. Having previously looked at the consequences for value propositions, innovation and customers brought about by the downturn, it is now appropriate to examine exactly what is demanded of those who will lead these reinvented, adaptive and vibrant organisations. What are the characteristics and behaviours of those who are to lead ‘brilliantly’?
Noted management thinker Warren Bennis has been quoted as saying that leadership is about ‘managing’ Attention, Meaning, Self and Trust. This is a useful starting point from which to explore what needs to be done by the leader in these straitened times.
• What is the focus for the business? Does it change week by week?
• How often do I and my team communicate the organisation’s key goals to staff?
• How many different media do we use to communicate our goals?
Sometimes vision and strategy are confused, leaders quickly forget that although they may have to adjust the ‘how to’ – the strategy – their vision can still be held. In tough times it is easy for a leader to lock themselves away and be just managing the numbers but is even more important for the leaders to be visible and to provide a clear direction for the business and to consistently communicate it to your people. The brilliant leader needs to let everyone know that, notwithstanding a few diversions, you intend reaching the intended destination.
• How do I demonstrate the connection between each employee’s work and our goals?
• How clear are me and my team in communicating the ‘why’ and not just the ‘how’ behind each decision?
It has been said that we can achieve any ‘what’ if we are given a big enough ‘why’. Brilliant leaders are brilliant communicators – not necessarily orators, there is a difference! They get out amongst the troops and show them how their work is connected and why it is important. They remind them what achieving the vision will mean for them and for other key stakeholders. They interpret current events and place them in a context that is meaningful, relevant and motivating. They don’t batten down the hatches they get out and communicate and inspire.
• What is the one thing I do that makes the biggest difference to this organisation?
• Am I holding myself and my team to high standards of behaviour in how we interact with staff, and in how we conduct business in spite of the current pressures we face? The brilliant leader needs to be aware of their choices in terms of behaviour. A leader demonstrates what they believe to be important by how they spend their time.
Time structuring is a critical behaviour for a leader as it unconsciously communicates to those around them what the priorities really are. Yet a leader can still be led astray by trying to live the priorities of each department or function. What is required is for the leader to model prioritisation and, having clearly articulated the vision and consistently reinforced it, focus on the area in which they can make the biggest difference to the organisation. The leader then structures their time around this focal point and asks the same discipline of those who report to them or her – cascading the behaviour throughout the organisation.
• Are our reward systems fair and transparent as perceived by employees?
• Do our words and behaviour communicate that there is a desire for truth telling and that there is no punishment for honest mistakes?
The brilliant leader is always aware of the importance of relationships. Ultimately business performance is about what people do in relationship with one another. Getting the best from others involves them giving their best discretionary efforts. Trust based relationships throughout the organisation will provide the basis for these kinds of efforts. Brilliant leaders provide the platform for great performances from their people by developing trust through openness, fairness, reliability and by recognising the contributions – expected and discretionary– of those who work alongside them in pursuit of the vision.
Tough times call for Brilliant Leadership and Brilliant leadership calls for leaders who know how to manage Attention, Meaning, Self and Trust.
Guest blog by Vistage speaker Glen Daly, if you want to hear Glen Daly speak why not come along to our Open Day in Manchester 25th June at Manchester City Football Club. For more details and to register click here