Training for Excellence: Leadership.
Mar 20, 2017
Following the success of the first “Ask the experts” instalment, we at LMC again asked a few expert trainers several questions on the topic of leadership this time. The people we have asked this time all have an extensive background of being influential leaders in their industry, we hope that you gain some insight and knowledge from the information in this article.
1) How would you define great leadership?
A: Great leadership starts with an exciting narrative and a future-focused approach. It is about setting a path or journey that other people want to follow you on. By inspiring people to buy-in to the vision, a great leader will surround themselves with people they feel bring something new to the team or organisation and develop them for the long term, empowering them to take ownership of the company’s success. Having a clear focus, confidence and doing what they love is key. Leadership requires trust so a great leader needs to always be honest and deliver on his or her promises.
Setting standards is a core part of great leadership also. Leaders set the standard for engagement in the workplace and culture comes from the top without doubt, so how a great leader behaves will set a benchmark for every other member of the team’s behaviour. This concept of leading from the front is nothing new but it is essential to building a positive and productive workplace culture. Great leaders are adaptable and agile but also consistent in their approach.
The biggest factor for me is that great leaders do not profess to know everything. It is absolutely not about having a big ego. The best leader goes above and beyond to be available, approachable and transparent. Great leaders are open to and actively seek feedback (both negative and positive) from the people around them – this innovation led approach also helps keep their business ahead of its competition. They make themselves available to everyone in the company, and empathy and emotional intelligence are what separate the good leaders from brilliant ones…
2) Name one person whose leadership qualities you admire or has inspired you and why?
A: I love the leadership of Michelle Obama. Her ability to balance marriage, parenting, outreach and defining success for herself is admirable. She has done that so effortlessly and with such class. She has raised the bar for woman of color to not be victims of their environments but to elevate beyond those circumstances and be a voice and to be the change we really wish to see.
Regina Coley. Executive Director of Reginacoley.com, Educating, Elevating and Enriching the lives of youths
3) What is the greatest lessons you've learned as a leader? And how has this impacted your relationship with others?
A:I have learned so many lessons as leader, too many to list here. There are three of my favorites:
Buck Stops With You – Whatever challenges or problems your business has, it all starts and stops with you. If you have are not hitting your sales goals, if you have under performers on your team, if your margins are not “fat” enough, it all comes back to you. Leadership can impact, positively or negatively, everything.
Accountability Is Key -everyone wants to be held accountable. As leaders we need to praise those employees or team members that are exceeding expectations, and almost more importantly we need to “handle” those employees that are underperforming.
Serve First – invest first and foremost in your people. Leadership is about serving others. Serving your team, your customers and your business. As a leader your fastest path to success is about putting the needs of those who work with and for you first.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words – it does not matter what you say, it matters what you do. Okay, it matters a little what you say, but understand that how you act is how your team learns what to do. Your actions tell others what matters to you, what is important to you, and what you expect from your team. As a leader focus more on what you do rather than what you say.
Meridith Powell. CSP, Business Growth Expert, Motivational Speaker and Author.
4) What is the essence of leadership?
A: I believe two things define the essence of leadership. First, the leader must be willing to show he or she is human. Strong leaders admit they make mistakes and then model how they learn and grow from them. When leaders show up as imperfect humans willing to learn and grow, they give employees a sense of safety to be themselves and take risks to try new things. People know they can feel a range of emotions without feeling inadequate. The workplace comes alive with possibility when employees feel safe enough to bring our whole selves to work.
Second, leaders need to care about people. This seems simple but many times people are promoted for their technical capability or knowledge. They may or may not like people. Yet the higher you go up in a company, the more important is your ability to motivate others to work instead of doing the work yourself. Yet long-term motivation depends on how much a person feels valued, included, and cared about. You can’t fake caring. People will work hard and be loyal to leaders who care about them. They will care less about the work when leaders don’t do what it takes to show they care.
Marcia Reynolds, Global Expert in Holding Mind-Changing Conversations.
A: The essence of leadership is about understanding people, what motivates them and how to get the most from them. For example, according to the Deloitte University Press’ Global Human Capital Trends report; in organisations where leaders care about creating a more ‘human’ workplace, employees are 26% more likely to say their work has meaning or purpose (which is key to wellbeing and happiness at work) and 24% more likely to say they are highly engaged.
The ultimate essence of leadership is one’s ability to get the best from your teams, and knowing what they and you need to do in order to succeed. Encouraging cooperation is also important, as with any relationship - success depends on both parties being aligned. If a leader can bring out the best in their people, give them a compelling and common direction, and then trust them to get on with it, they are likely to have a loyal, engaged and high performing workforce. The ability to help others achieve their best, to motivate without telling, and to get people to help because they want to not because they have to, is the key to creating a winning company.
Great leaders have a true people focus, strive to energise their people, unify teams, work to support them and understand that without the people they employ they cannot possibly achieve their goals.
“Leadership is the art of leading others to deliberately create a result that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.” - Martin Luther King.
5) What impact has the internet and social media made to leadership in general?
A: The internet and social media has made a HUGE impact on leadership because it has given a platform to be used as an influencer. People spend a significant amount of time on social media and it's a tool that can be used to share messaging. The internet in general gives people greater access to leaders they normally would have had to simply read about. Now people can interact with leaders through live video, podcasts, courses, etc. It's a resource all leaders need to tap into.
- Regina Coley. Executive Director of Reginacoley.com, Educating, Elevating and Enriching the lives of youths