In my last post of 2016, I laid out my challenge for leaders in 2017. I wanted each and every one of us to commit to being better people leaders. Leaders who reach their full potential by building a sustainable framework to work from every day.
Why? Because, while writing my first book, I found that the art of people leadership (delivered by those in HR or another business function) was being constantly challenged and stretched by the daily battle between dealing with the uncertainty which surrounds our business environment, firefighting internally or just about keeping heads above the day-to-day delivery.
And without strong people leadership, then as business leaders, we are unable to sustainably develop the stars of the future and ensure long-term success for our businesses.
Therefore, I called upon readers of these posts to help make 2017 the year where we take back control and become better people leaders. The first step of which is laying the foundations.
Before you think about how you should lead, where you should lead or even whether you want to lead, you need to clarify your own values. They are, after all, the paints with which you colour your career.
I firmly believe that you cannot be a great people leader if you, yourself, do not know what you stand for. Great leadership is a continual balancing act and understanding who you are is the key to achieving this balance. It’s what will help you frame your leadership formula and ensure that you are the best people leader you can be.
In the HR profession, talking about values has become something of a cliché. But this is so wrong. Values are what define us, whether we realise and accept that or not. They direct us in the way we deal with our colleagues and peers, as well as our approach to the working environment. If these are faked or hidden, they will still shine through.
In my career, knowing and being true to my values has helped me make sense of the opportunities and challenges I have faced. And so, first action, I urge you to sit down and take 10 minutes to consider what you stand for and what your leadership USPs are.
Because, despite telling others how important it is to be clear on our values, as individuals and as a business, how often do we honestly practice what we preach? Yes, you may have an idea of our value compass, but have you thought deeply about this? Reviewed how this sits now that life has moved on? Outlined how this can impact upon your leadership style?
So, ask yourself what you believe in and what you reject. What you and your differences represent. Then consider how these differentiating factors can influence your leadership style and be useful to the business?
There is no right or wrong answer here. Every leader is different and that’s what should be celebrate. In my opinion, what defines a great leader is they are not afraid to be who they truly are. Queen Elizabeth II, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill, Mark Zuckerberg and Teresa May have all faced media giggles for their reluctance to ‘conform’ – it’s not impacted upon their ability to lead.
While I don’t like the term ’soul searching’, sometimes taking the opportunity to really consider questions like this can pay dividends, helping define what you want to do, where you want to go and the messages you wish to project.
Next month: what role do skills and talents have in your leadership framework?
This column is based upon his first book, Be A People Leader: a sustainable framework for achieving your full potential (RRP £9.99) which is available via Amazon and all good bookstores.
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