Do you work by your own values?
Our identity as leader and as a person for that matter is incredibly important, and so it’s critical that you are as clear as possible who it is that you are trying to be. Authenticity is also critical to highly effective leadership, and so if you are or have been living by someone else’s values, it is time to set yourself free. Strange as this may sound so many people compromise their performance by trying to live to a set of standards that they don’t own, for a whole variety of very genuine reasons such as parental expectation, role models or training courses, etc...
I want you to think for a moment about how you wish for people to remember you in answering the following questions.
What do you want people to remember you for? What would you like them to say about you?
I recommend that you Challenge your answers until you are 100% happy with what you have written against each of these answers. Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to become far more purposeful in your approach and style as a leader. Do bear in mind however, that this is about you, not your team, or your department etc..., there are very few statues anywhere around the world to a team.
To help you in your new focus and purpose going forward, I would ask you to stop and think about the five greatest achievements of your life so far.
What qualities do you see?
When you look at this list, what qualities do you see?
Think about which of these qualities will play a useful part in your journey forward as a leader and underline them.
Bear in mind that confidence in leadership comes with practice, but confidence in one’s self and their abilities can and needs to start straight away, although is best mixed with a dose of humility and patience for good measure.
In building that track record a great starting place is in dealing with the contents of your ‘too-hard’ or the ‘too-scary’ pile. This is that place where you hid or forgot about all those tasks and duties that you weren’t sure about. Deciding to tackle this tray is often the greatest enabler, and clearing some of these will help you build some solid momentum. After-all, it’s going after the harder tasks that will separate you from the average guy, and it’s also great practice for what’s to come.
How do you tackle your hardest Challenges?
The best advice I can offer here is to be objective and focussed with these tasks, keeping one eye on the desired end result at all times, as it’s all so easy to get caught up with the task in hand. Continually reminding yourself of the Results that are required will help retain a focus on the big picture objective. Being extremely focused upon clearing these things will not only create some momentum in your role as a high performance leader, but also help you build confidence and profile as someone who gets things done. This is a very empowering process, plus you’ll probably find that you start sleeping better at night, as you recognise that you are more ready now for the doubtless harder Challenges that the role will throw at you.
I have just done exactly this in order to create the space in my diary to commit these words to paper. Not only did I feel more relaxed about having cleared away these ‘hidden tasks,’ but more importantly, I found myself with greater degree of creativity and ‘headroom'.
The trick in dealing with these and the more challenging tasks within your role is to focus specifically on the required successful outcome, with this in mind, you need to simply look at what’s required to enable the attainment of that outcome. If you find this process tricky the first few times through, then look to involve one or two others who either have a stake in the process/result you are seeking to create; or who you believe will bring the required creativity (or ‘can-do’ attitude) and support to bear.
How will you make an excellent leader?
An appetite to take on these ‘harder’ tasks will very quickly separate you from the average managers and leaders that have gone before. Just be sure to retain a strong degree of humility, as this will ensure that you retain a persona of being approachable.
Have you ever experienced before the ‘cocky leader’ who believes he can do anything, and needs to tell everyone all about his capabilities? I always remember something the managing director of one of the firms I worked for in the junior stages of my career. He said 'empty vessels make more noise,' and it has always stuck with me. Combine it with that favourite marketing line 'less is more' and you will start to see a change in your leadership style, certainly others will.
How often we naturally fill the silences with noise, working on the basis that you are already a good leader by the fact that you are exploring how to become a highly effective leader and learning to say less and enjoy the silences can also be extremely empowering.
Try it and see for yourself. Using that simple premise that you are already a good leader (en-route to being an extremely good leader) will help improve your headroom and listening capacity. As they say in certain military circles, less ‘transmit’ and more ‘receive.'