There are many leaders in this world. There are leaders by title and leaders by nature. Some leaders are vocal and in the spotlight. Others are more introverted, being successful in their own way.
Some leaders are highly successful, winning awards for their capabilities. Some have experienced more ups and downs; gaining great resilience and life learnings.
There are people leaders and then there are business leaders.
Some may suggest that a business leader is, by default, a people leader. After all, how can you rise to management ranks without being great with people? However, in my experience, being a great people leader requires a different attitude, skillset and focus than being a brilliant business leader.
We’ve already talked about the foundations of being a great people leader within my columns on Changeboard; exploring the importance of values, purpose, style. But achieving success requires us to build upon these – adding a framework, strategy and objectives.
Create a leadership framework
Being a successful people leader is only possible when you have the right framework in place. If you’ve been reading this column from the beginning, you’ll know I love an art analogy and so I will make the comparison again: if your values are the paints and your leadership skills and talents are the palette and colours with which you’re working, then your framework is both the initial drawings you’ll do to sketch out your masterpiece and the brushstrokes you’ll take to complete it.
Building a framework upon which success will be achieved is just like sketching and experimenting for the masterpiece you’ll create in the future. In real terms, this is where individual leadership framework meets business strategy.
Every leader will have their own formula for creating a leadership framework, so I’m not going to be prescriptive and tell you what to put into it but your framework, in theory, should be an extension of the foundations you created in my very first post.
Only once you have your framework, can you add layers and colour – creating your strategy, committing to your goal and achieving results.
Time is your friend
Achieving people leadership success also takes time. Yet there’s so much pressure on leaders to make decisions, demonstrate tangible results, have an impact within their first 30 or even 100 days. I completely disagree with this mindset. It’s far better to be known within the first 100 days – making an impact with personality, your presence, your relationships – than sending out an ill-thought-out engagement survey or making fast decisions on employee benefits.
Even when you’re long into your role, making sure you take the time to get your strategy right is critical to your success as a leader. Too many people go out there and say “Behold! Here is my strategy, I’m going to make it happen now”, without truly knowing how, when, who and how much.
Educate, educate and educate some more
The final component of leadership success, in my opinion, is being a great educator. You can only execute strategy successfully if you’ve created awareness and buy-in around it. So that time you’ve taken to build relationships, it’ll pay dividends now…
Invest time in communication and education, regardless of how long it takes. Everyone has to be on-board, everyone, otherwise your approach is unlikely to work; impacting upon your success as a leader.
Part of this education is being open and transparent about the success, or failure, of your strategy. This means monitoring and measuring activity as it’s rolled out; tweaking as necessary.
Remember though, just because you’ve developed a proposal doesn’t mean it’ll be your final strategy. Just because you’ve written it, presented it and committed to it, doesn’t mean you can’t change it.
My ultimate advice… if you need to change it – change it.