“Leadership”. Few topics have so many experts offering so much advice with so little actual impact!
It would take years to read all of the books on leadership currently on the shelves of your local Barnes and Noble. And yet, the lack of effective leadership continues to mire far too many organizations in the tar pit of mediocrity.
Yesterday, I engaged in a thought-provoking conversation with one of my authentic role models on the type of leadership required to create a dynamic and satisfying environment in which team members find a high-degree of job satisfaction and, as a result, perform at their highest levels. The insights I gained from this thought-provoking conversation are worth sharing.
- Great leaders are not afraid to make themselves vulnerable.
This is so counter-intuitive to our normal human inclinations. We tend to protect, conceal, and hide our shortcomings and limitations. We are afraid that if anyone knows we have a weakness, they will not respect us, they will not trust us, they will not like us, and they will not follow us. In reality, just the opposite is true. When a leader finally develops the courage to acknowledge their shortcomings, no one who works with them is surprised — they already could see the shortcomings and knew that the leader was hiding from those shortcomings! Vulnerability demonstrates strength (not weakness) and builds trust (not doubt). Leadership built on a foundation of anything other than trust is doomed to fail.
- Great leaders are confidence builders.
After a leader has earned the trust of their team, the leader must make the team trust and believe in itself (both individually and collectively). Achieving great things can only be achieved once your team truly believes they are capable of achieving great things. The greatest obstacle is not a lack of training, know how, education, money, staffing, or political support — it is a lack of confidence that the vision is achievable. Great leaders know how to build the confidence of their team that they can accomplish amazing things.
- Great leaders are dream enablers.
The vast majority of your team members are motivated first and foremost by the desire to know they are making a difference in what they do. I absolutely love the description of the leader as a dream enabler. Few things are as exciting and satisfying as leading a team as they translate their individual and collective dreams and visions into a reality that makes a huge difference in the world. A leader who can align organizational goals that make a difference with the dreams of their team members will have captured lightening in a bottle… and amazing things will happen.
Build trust with your team by being strong enough to make yourself vulnerable; build confidence in your team that they are capable of achieving great things; and enable your team to make their dreams and visions a reality, and you will leave a lasting legacy as a great leader!
Isn’t it amazing that one word can draw so many different responses? When some people hear that change is on the horizon, the response varies from, “Finally! I’ve been waiting for us to change that for years!” to, “We’re doing what? I can’t believe we’re going to waste all that time and money fixing what isn’t broken!”
In essence – change can be great, or it can be dreadful. It can bring excitement while simultaneously bringing fear. It can cause some to want to jump for joy and others to want to jump ship.
Change is rarely stress free, but it can be less stressful when leaders grasp these basic change management principles:
Change is inevitable – Think about it from your own experience. If you are over the age of 50, you probably marvel at how much has changed in your lifetime. Even if you are in your 20’s you have witnessed amazing changes in numerous industries, most notably technology.
Do you anticipate a future where change ceases to be part of the equation?
The truth is – change is part of our DNA. If it were not, we would remain perpetual toddlers. The same thing is true for organizations. Without purposeful and healthy change, organizations may never realize their full potential.
Change is a process, not an event – There are times when change is event oriented, i.e., a retirement party signals a team member change or an accident creates a change in safety protocol, but the type of change that substantially challenges organizations is process oriented change. Process oriented change takes time to envision, own, and implement.
The process may involve one department and take only a few weeks to incorporate, i.e., police officers being issued a new firearm, or the process may take years and involve every employee, i.e., creating a “customer first” culture.
Change varies in type – Within the context of an organization, there are many different types of change. These include but are not limited to:
- Personal change happens to an individual. It can be non-work related, i.e., Having a baby, getting married, losing a loved one, etc., or work related, i.e., gaining skills that change the way an employee carries out job functions.
- Departmental change impacts the operating culture of a single department. This can happen when a department incorporates a new computer system, or changes policy, incorporates new personnel, moves to a new location, etc.
- Organizational change involves restructuring the way an entire organization approaches one process or numerous processes or services.
- Systemic change is more widespread and involves aspects such as communication processes, chain of command, reporting structures, low elected official input versus high input, etc.
- Cultural change is different from organizational change. Organizational change can be mandated and made to occur whether there is buy-in or not. But cultural change must be owned internally if it is to be successful. Otherwise, the organization will ultimately slip back into that which is familiar – even if familiar isn’t working.
These basic principles are just the tip of the iceberg. How do you equip your organization for change?