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Most leaders are very comfortable in managing the day-to-day performance of their people. The typical career progression for a leader means that they were likely promoted from within, largely because they have demonstrated mastery in their technical area. However, as your organization grows there is a need for your leaders to evolve from telling, or using a directive leadership approach to coaching which relies more on asking thought provoking questions. This is a key step that unfortunately many businesses and leaders miss. It is vital to get this right if you want to become an exceptional leader. Not only that but it develops you and your people to a much higher level, adn really helps a company excel through engaging their people for success. Your managers and leaders need to embrace the fact that they no longer have to have all of the “right” answers, and can’t be expected to in today's rapidly changing workplace. However, what they need to do to combat this, is they need to know how to ask the “right” questions.
Leaders would not be where they are if they did have the skill to manage the day-to-day activities of their teams. This is a key fundamental part of leadership, but it can also be a key trap. We all know that when we are under pressure we revert to ‘type’ and in this case that means doing what you know you can do, and have had success in achieving. This is where potential leaders can fall into the trap of becoming command and control managers. However there are ways to avoid this, and the tools below are the ones you need to embrace and use to stop this from happening to you, or your people.
Leaders often have to wear multiple hats that include both managing the performance of the team and taking a role in the development and growth of the team members. This is where an exceptional leader is very clear and directed in their approach to achieve this. Leaders that act more like coaches help to develop the growth of team members, as a way of supporting and meeting the overall objective of the organization and the team. Performance still matters. Deadlines still matter. However, Leaders as coaches learn from helping team members develop, and this stops them from becoming command and control. It also has the added benefit of improving their coaching and mentoring skill set. Which is a crucial core skill of an exceptional leader. This allows them to become more aware of any issues or beliefs that may be holding back their people or the progress toward goals. Plus this is a great springboard that allows them to take the next step and become respected authentic leaders that fully engage with their people. If leaders lead from a coaching and mentoring perspective they are asking questions and supporting solutions, this is much more valuable to any business than just telling and directing. This not only creates massive value in any business, but leads to a fully engaged team that will excel and create more than the norm.
Exceptional leadership is a key success tool in any business, and it takes effort, time and experience to achieve. It’s not an overnight thing, or something that you can decide to have, or do. However, getting it right can improve your culture, leading to growth and innovation as well as retaining your talent. Engaging your People to achieve this will deliver you maximum success across your company.
Authentic leadership and trust are becoming key business needs. Trust and authenticity has been becoming more and more necessary in business, but when you hit a crisis, they become critical. People are scared, they need to be able to trust the direction, and if they can’t, they move on, underperform or degrade the culture further. On the flip side, when you have authentic leadership in your business, the culture becomes one of support and innovation, your people are engaged, and feel supported and happy, and that makes all the difference to your entire business. When your leaders achieve authenticity, and can work with your people from a coaching and mentoring perspective, your people can fully engage with your leadership team. This supports your hence culture, and helps drive it to better and better things. Your people then become the force for positive and thoughtful change, improvements, and outcomes in your business. They even do this of their own volition, and want the best for the company as they are engaged and supported and want to, and can give back. This is what makes a sustainable and successful business, and why exceptional leaders are so important.
Time and time again we see people leave managers not companies, so it is vital for your business to ensure your leaders are the best they can be, and one of the key drivers for this is authenticity, adn that can be further developed and enhanced through exceptional coaching and mentoring skills. So that is what we will focus on achieving for you and your business in this episode.
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What You Need to Know - The What
Authenticity- what is it really
Authentic leadership is an approach to leadership that emphasizes building the leader's legitimacy through honest relationships with followers which value their input and are built on an ethical foundation. Generally, authentic leaders are positive people with truthful self-concepts who promote openness.
According to Forbes, Authentic leaders display 4 key traits;
1. Authentic leaders are self-aware and genuine.
Authentic leaders are self-actualized individuals who are aware of their strengths, their limitations, and their emotions. They also show their real selves to their followers. They do not act one way in private and another in public; they don’t hide their mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak. They also realize that being self-actualized is an endless journey, never complete.
2. Authentic leaders are mission driven and focused on results.
They are able to put the mission and the goals of the organization ahead of their own self-interest. They do the job in pursuit of results, not for their own power, money or ego.
3. Authentic leaders lead with their heart, not just their minds.
They are not afraid to show their emotions, their vulnerability and to connect with their employees. This does not mean authentic leaders are “soft.” In fact communicating in a direct manner is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s done with empathy; directness without empathy is cruel.
4. Authentic leaders focus on the long-term.
A key tenet in Bill George’s model is the company leaders are focused on long-term shareholder value, not in just beating quarterly estimates. Just as George did as CEO of Medtronic , and as Bezos has done for years at Amazon, leaders realize that to nurture individuals and to nurture a company requires hard work and patience, but the approach pays large dividends over time.
Your leaders need to;
The Paradox of Authenticity
Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership
by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones
Leadership demands the expression of an authentic self. However many leaders see the success of people like —say, Jack Welch, Richard Branson, or Michael Dell—and they try and act like them! This is the first trap, avoid it at all costs, if you try this you will fail. People want to be led by someone “real.” This has been coming in the workplace for some time, people are showing they need to have their personal values met and work, and are not there for a job for life. In recent times this has been amplified as we are going through a global crisis, and hence your people have become more self-focussed, they are also highly stressed and hence more sensitive to poor leadership and miscommunication. People at work are typically now also more cynical, as they are exposed to multiple points of information that often contradicts the company line, this has lead to the public’s widespread disenchantment with politicians and businesspeople. We all suspect that we’re being duped.
An authentic self is necessary for great leadership, the concept of authenticity is often misunderstood, not least by leaders themselves. They often assume that authenticity is an innate quality—that a person is either authentic or not. In fact, authenticity is a quality that others must attribute to you. No leader can look into a mirror and say, “I am authentic.” A person cannot be authentic on his or her own. Authenticity is largely defined by what other people see in you and, as such, can to a great extent be controlled by you. If authenticity were purely an innate quality, there would be little you could do to manage it and, therefore, little you could do to make yourself more effective as a leader.
It is for leaders to find a balance between expressing their personalities and managing those of the people they aspire to lead or at least influence. Yet the ability to strike that balance—and to preserve one’s authenticity in the process—is precisely what distinguishes great leaders from other executives. The challenge of great leadership is exactly that of managing one’s authenticity, paradoxical though it undoubtedly sounds.
So how do you Establish Your Authenticity?
There’s no one right way to establish and manage your authenticity. But there are conscious steps you can take to help others perceive you as an authentic leader. Some of these are ...
1- Prepare in advance
2- Focus on Knowing Yourself and Others
3- Keep those close to you who give honest feedback
4- Use where you come from- storytelling
5- Conform- but only just enough
A Good Place to Start is recognising the Different Types of Coaching and encouraging and supporting a shift to Situational. This will build your coaching and mentoring muscles as well as ensure you are displaying empathy.
Styles of Coaching
One of the best ways to get better at non-directive coaching is to try using the GROW model, developed in the 1980s by Sir John Whitmore and others. It's an old model but incredibly simple and effective and still relevant today. This really helps leaders move from the direct telling model they often get trapped in, to achieving the more conversational encouragement and support model that they need to make the behavioural shift to in order to be Leaders who are also authentic.
Top 10 Traits to focus on for becoming Authentic
1. Self-awareness and constant self improvement
2. Lead with heart
3. Focus on long-term results
5. Lead with vision
6. Exceptional Listening skills
8. Consistency- and communication
9. Share success with the team
10. Using experience by storytelling and displaying empathy
Previous: Episode E10 Business Mismatches are costly and easily overlooked- Don't let this happen to you!
Next: Episode 12 Developing yourself and your team as outstanding leaders
Written by Lisa Askwith
Director of ApexBRS | ApexBRS, Regional Director of See Global
Media, Chair of EGN Singapore, and Associate Professor Cambridge Corporate University | At the Age of Change, providing the HR component of the Global Executive MBA and BBA. Lisa has worked for some of the largest companies in the world and successfully led restructures and change management programs in order to improve the bottom line through engaging the people for success, while developing exceptional leaders who can make a positive impact on Culture and long term business sustainability.
You can connect with Lisa on any of her platforms
LinkedIn Lisa Askwith - Director - Apex BRS
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