“The courage of leadership is giving others the chance to succeed even though you bear the responsibility for getting things done.” – Simon Sinek
It’s important to remember that responsibility and doing are not the same thing. You are responsible, as the leader, but you should empower your team to do the bulk of the work.
Its important to note thought, that leadership is not a skill that everyone is born with. It needs to be learned and developed over time. If you would like to become a successful leader, then I can help. Click here and book a call with me so we can discuss the best way for you to develop the skills you need.
Before we get stuck in, I just want to throw in our usual disclaimer, that the information in this article is general in nature and no substitute for tailored advice, specific to your particular circumstances.
We’ll look at important leadership roadblocks, the essentials for great leadership and key leadership lessons. We’ll also cover powerful mindsets to help you inspire and engage your team, identify processes and rhythms you can implement to improve leadership in your business, and review a powerful tool you can use to assess your leadership skills.
There are many leadership roadblocks that can get in the way of success. One of the most common is blaming others for poor performance. It’s easy to point the finger and say that someone else is to blame, but the reality is that we need to take a close look at our own leadership. Are we setting the right example? Are we providing clear direction? Are we motivating and inspiring our team members? If not, then it’s time to make some changes. By taking responsibility for our own behaviour, we can start to make a positive difference in the lives of those we lead.
If you’re not achieving the results you want as a leader, it’s time to take a good hard look in the mirror. The fact is, we can only control our own behaviour. When things go wrong, it’s all too easy to lay the blame at someone else’s feet. But if we want to be effective leaders, we need to take responsibility for our own actions.
Here are some of the most common roadblocks that can trip us up as leaders:
Please dial down your sensitivity meters as we go through these roadblocks; we all have improvement opportunities, and a key attribute of a great leader is recognising one can always do better. With an open mind, positive change is more likely to happen.
- No formal leadership training: most of us have fallen into our leadership roles, with no formal training. Leadership skills can and must be learned, and that learning never stops
- Lack of clarity / alignment: so often there is no clear, documented and shared plan. Without that, there can be a lack of alignment between business owners as well as team members being unclear on how their role or career goals fit into the business goals
- Poor communication: there may be a plan, but if it’s not widely shared or reported against, it’s unlikely to be implemented
- Business purpose and values not articulated or lived into: knowing why your business exists and what values you operate under provides a clear framework for team success. I’ll share our core purpose shortly. Likewise, we have Core Values that drive our behaviour as a team. Our team knows our purpose and values and they act as guiding principles in the work they do
- Us and them attitude: leadership is about owners and the team working side by side to produce outcomes that individuals could not achieve on their own. Businesses with an ‘us and them’ attitude have high team turnover, low job satisfaction and poor results.
So, let’s flip those roadblocks on their head.
Here are what we consider to be the essentials of great leadership; the building blocks and framework you need to have in place.
- Have a plan / vision: your plan sets out where you want to go as a business, with specific goals and actions for the next 90 days and clarity on your annual goals. This plan is not a static document – you should refer to it often and update it quarterly
- Share it with the team: your plan should be shared regularly at team meetings. Don’t leave it in the bottom drawer!
- Ensure your team aligns their goals with yours: great leadership is about taking your team on a journey; if they know what your goals are, they can match theirs to yours, which will increase energy and motivation for all.
- Put accountability in place – reporting and meetings: you must put accountability in place. And by this, we mean reporting and meetings; not a carrot and stick. The traditional view on accountability is that you set targets and expectations (often referred to as KPIs or Key Performance Indicators), and then, if a team member doesn’t hit them there are consequences, e.g. no bonus or performance management. It’s far more effective to simply report against the targets and meet regularly to discuss them, enabling team members to get clearer on expectations and learn to self-monitor their own performance, as well as better communicate their own roadblocks to you.
- Inspire the team: think about the most charismatic leaders in the world; their actions and behaviours inspire others to change, evolve and become better versions of themselves. Start aligning yourself with those leaders today to inspire your team.
- Walk the talk: walking the talk is perhaps the most important point; “Do as I do” as opposed to the very outdated motto: “Do as I say”.
Are you struggling as a leader?
You’re not alone. Many leaders find themselves in this position, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. If you’re willing to take a good hard look at yourself and make some changes, I can help. Book your free call now
Now that we’re clearer on the roadblocks to great team performance and the foundations for great leadership, it’s time to share some of our leadership lessons. Note, there are so many books and articles written on this topic, so don’t stop here…
Our top leadership lessons can be remembered by the acronym JUST FOR ME, as they are all things that, as leader, you can control.
- Just Do It (‘JDI’): so often we fail to implement ideas because things get in the way. JDI (or JFDI if you want to add emphasis!) reminds us to get out of our own way, get over our limiting beliefs and just be the great leader we can be.
- United vision and values: your vision is where you want to take the business and your values are the filters through which you determine your behaviour. When the entire team is aligned on vision and values, you create a strong workplace culture and an environment for continuous improvement. Having a united vision and values is a cornerstone of great leadership.
- Safety: neuroscience researchers argue that humans did not evolve to be consistently happy, but primarily to survive and reproduce. As leaders, our role is to ensure that our team is safe and we are safe, both emotionally and physically. What are you doing to improve your team’s emotional and physical safety right now? What more could you do?
- Teamwork and Trust: the well-known backronym for Team – ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’ is so important as a leader. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you in different ways and use your collective expertise to bring results that you couldn’t achieve on your own. Build a culture of trust by practising what you teach, living into your Core Values and doing what you say you’ll do.
- Focus: once we have a clear idea of the vision and the plan and we’ve shared it with our team, we can all focus on our individual contribution. The plan helps us identify the 2-3 most important activities for each of us to work on and the results we expect to achieve, helping us establish what a great day’s work looks like for each of us.
- Opportunity: every challenge or difficult situation presents us with an opportunity to do better. For example, if we have a poor performing team member we have an opportunity to support them better, to remove any barriers to them operating better or, if we can’t achieve alignment and improved results, the ability to ‘open the door of opportunities’ for them!
- Resilience and Resourcefulness: resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; resourcefulness is the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties. As a leader, it’s your job to build resilience both for yourself and your team and at the same time use your team as your primary resource to overcome difficult situations.
- Mindset: your mindset is the attitude you bring to your role, e.g. you may have an abundance mindset or a scarcity mindset as a leader, we’ll cover five key mindsets, in more detail, next.
- Empathy and Energy: our last leadership lesson is perhaps the most important – empathy is the ability to see things from another person’s perspective and be prepared to do something about it. For example, if someone is struggling to do their job, an empathetic leader will seek first to understand why the team member is struggling. To offer support and training as opposed to complaining about their performance to others. There may be valid reasons why the team member is not performing. Increasing our empathy for others and living into these leadership lessons increases energy across the team and the business. Think how energised you feel when things are going well – let’s use all of these lessons as a way to build energy across our business so we get improved results for all.
Don’t let your mindset hold you back!
Your mindset is the attitude you bring to your work. It’s important to have the right mindset if you want to be a successful leader. For another great article on mindset, click here now
I’ll now share five important mindsets to help you in your leadership role.
Of course, there are so many more leadership mindsets we could share with you, choosing our top five was really tough.
We use these, and many more mindsets, when working with our coaching clients, and when facilitating various planning meetings. They provide a framework for better thinking or can be used as tools to share with your team to get better results.
I’ll briefly explain the five mindsets, but the best way to learn and implement these is through ongoing discussion and revision of them, so we encourage you to ask us about these in our future meetings.
Mindset # 1
Our first leadership mindset summarises the importance of having an abundance mindset versus a scarcity mindset. This mindset is a must for all leaders as it enables you to get the best from your team members.
A scarcity mentality starts from a place of distrust, with leaders neglecting the team and believing that there’s no way the team would do the job as well as they could do it themselves. These leaders are sceptical and frustrated, criticising the team and creating stress throughout the business. They’ll be distracted from their own work as they fail to delegate and cause bottlenecks. This results in mediocrity and poor results.
On the other hand, an abundance mentality comes from a place of trust; appreciating and respecting the team and having confidence in them to get the job done and do it well. An abundance mindset also encourages development among a team, which contributes to better engagement, job satisfaction and overall loyalty. This all leads to improved delegation and focus, so the leader can prioritise making quality decisions, ultimately leading to success and positive outcomes.
Leaders with an abundance mindset believe that if the team wins, they’ll win too.
Mindset # 2
Our second leadership mindset is possibly the most powerful business model ever written. The OARBED mindset is one of the easiest ways to transform your business’s culture and team performance.
When acting above the line, we take ownership, accountability and responsibility for our actions.
When we’re below the line, we’re lying in BED. We blame others, make excuses, and deny involvement or responsibility.
As a leader, it’s particularly essential to act above the line. Leaders must also clearly articulate their expectations for the team to act above the line. There is no hierarchy with the OARBED mindset; your team should be comfortable calling you out for acting below the line, as well as holding each other accountable to above the line behaviour.
Let’s consider an example of where above the line behaviour has an impact business outcomes. Let’s say a deadline is missed. Would you want your team to blame others or technology, make excuses about not having enough time or information, or deny knowledge of the deadline? Or should they take ownership of their actions, hold themselves accountable and take responsibility for fixing the issue?
When acting above the line, your team is more inclined to work together to find a solution, acting as a safety net for each other rather than throwing each other under the bus. Issues are resolved faster, less re-work occurs, broken processes get found and fixed, and implementing a plan is easier.
Mindset # 3
Our third leadership mindset is all about defining and living into your purpose. Your purpose is why your business exists for your clients.
Most businesses first describe what it is they do, followed by how they do it. They often fail to talk about why the business exists for their customers.
It’s important to communicate from the inside out, building an emotional connection with customers. So, how do you describe your ‘why’ or purpose? This should be 5-7 words defining why you exist for your customers. When you have a clear purpose that your team understands, it’s much easier to achieve alignment of thinking. For example, our purpose is <insert purpose>. For us this means… <describe what it means for you> When our team live into the purpose, we’re able to provide even greater success for our clients and our team.
Then you can talk about the how; your unique selling point or brand promise… and, when customers understand your why and how, you can then discuss the what; the products or services you offer to achieve your why.
Mindset # 4
Our fourth leadership mindset helps us achieve better results across the entire business. It’s a reminder that having a clearly defined vision and goals across the team brings energy to our work.
The first quadrant is Vision. Your vision comes from your Business Plan or Strategic Plan; the future state of your business. You will have a vision for your business and a vision for each team member.
The second quadrant is Energy. How much energy do you bring to your business when you walk in the door? Energy levels are infectious; if you have a low level of energy, your team will respond with low energy. Ensure you bring positive energy every time you walk through the door to help inspire and motivate your team. Fake it until you become it if you have to!
The third quadrant is Focus. This ensures your team understands the purpose of their role, that they know when they’ve had a great day at work and that their outputs are helping the team achieve the overall vision. Think about your objectives, the way the team communicates and how, you structure your meetings… with better focus and planning, we can maximise outcomes.
The fourth quadrant is Empowerment. As leaders, we need to empower our team; training and supporting them to do a great job, giving both constructive and positive feedback, delegating to them without dictating how they meet an objective or abdicating responsibility for the outcome. True delegation requires a clear handover of processes while encouraging improvement ideas and taking overall responsibility for the outcome, and it’s a fabulous way to reduce bottlenecks in your business and empower your team.
Mindset # 5
The final leadership mindset I want to look at today is about aligning your team members’ goals with your business goals and creating a way forward for your team.
First, determine where your business is now. Be honest with this assessment – what’s your current financial position? How many hours are you working? What is your current role? What is the value of your business?
Then, establish your future vision for the business. In five years’ time, what do you want your financial position to be? How many hours do you want to be working? What does your role look like? What do you want the value of your business to be?
And finally, set a plan to get from where you are now to where you want to be in the future. Identify the projects you need to undertake and the actions you need to complete. Set Key Performance Indicators and establish a reporting framework to monitor your progress towards your goals and engage someone to hold you accountable to ensure you reach your future vision.
Follow the same process with your team; identifying where each team member is now, where they want to be in the future, and implement a plan to help them get there. Demonstrate how their plan fits in with the wider business vision to ensure their goals are aligned.
So, that wraps up our top five leadership mindsets.
So now we know the top leadership lessons and leadership mindsets, let’s get into some practical ways that we can embed better leadership into our working day.
- 10 Hats Organisation Structure: no matter what size of business you have, there are 10 Hats that need to be worn. They are the Shareholder or Owner hat, the Director hat, then the Leadership hat – which all fall under business strategy… and then we have the operational hats which are: Product or Service Development, Marketing, Sales, Operations, Finance, HR, and the Admin & Tech hats. Our clients typically get far better results when they define which hats they want to wear, which ones they can take off, and how they can enable other team members to wear different hats. For example, you could outsource the marketing, finance or tech hats to free up time. Likewise, you may get better results by having someone other than you leading the operations department
- Clearly defined job descriptions: it’s crucial that all team members are clear on their individual roles. A clearly defined job description, with keys tasks and Key Performance Indicators documented, is the best way to define a great day’s work for everyone on the team
- 6-monthly performance review and goal setting: we have templates available to help you with performance reviews and goal setting for your team. Provided you do this regularly, it is a positive process. If you only do performance reviews with poorly performing team members, this process can be very negative and damaging for your team.
- Appropriate meeting reporting and rhythms: meetings without reporting are a waste of time; they either become a meeting of discovery when information is provided at the time, or the team is left in the dark as to whether or not they’re on track to targets. The rhythm is how often the meetings happen. For example, Directors should meet monthly for 2-3 hours to review business performance. Operations team members may have a daily 10-minute ‘toolbox’ meeting to clarify the work to be done that day. Your management team may meet weekly to ensure clear communication across the business. These meetings may be virtual or in person depending on what works best
- Atomic leadership habits: pull this all together to create new and better habits. These might be new leadership habits related to the leadership lessons or the mindsets we’ve shared. Or, they might simply be making your meeting rhythms habitual instead of ad-hoc. It’s key to establish and maintain these great leadership habits over the long term
This leads me nicely into a practical tool you can use to assess what you need to do to be a better leader.
This tool pulls together the leadership lessons, the mindsets, processes and rhythms I’ve discussed.
For each of the eight abilities on the wheel, rank yourself from 0 to 10. 0 being terrible and 10 being outstanding.
Starting at the top, the first ability is being able to foster trusting relationships. Consider the things you do to build a strong relationship with your team. Do you take time our to engage with each team member and take a genuine interest in their wellbeing and interests? Do you take the team out for lunch regularly? What about catching up with each team member individually over a coffee to check in on how they’re doing?
Next, moving clockwise, we have being able to influence and being open to being influenced. How well do you listen to understand instead of listening to reply? Are you curious and open to hearing other people’s opinions? Do you implement other’s suggestions and praise them for the resulting success? Do you share new learnings with your team?
Then, we have being able to take risks and confront reality. Part of this is being vulnerable and admitting mistakes; recognising that mistakes are an opportunity for learning. Do you look for opportunities arising from difficult times? Do you have courageous conversations when they’re needed and proactively look for potential risks to mitigate? Do you take time out to reflect, plan and work on your business?
The next key ability is allowing others to learn from mistakes. Do you recognise opportunities to delegate and encourage others to stretch? Is your work environment one where team members feel safe trying new things and sometimes making mistakes? If your culture reflects this, your team will be more inclined to innovate and find better ways of doing things – all while being confident enough to admit if they make a mistake and proactive enough to remedy it fast.
As a leader, one of your key roles is to deliver results. What do you do to ensure you deliver results, for your business and your team? Do you set realistic goals and actions? Do you have regular meetings to help dissolve your team’s roadblocks and reduce bottlenecks? Do you keep the business on track to achieving the goals?
Next, you need to be able to clarify your expectations and motivate your team. Communication is key to effective leadership. Do you undertake a regular performance review and goal setting session with each team member? Is your team engaged in the work they’re doing? Do you make sure their roles play to their strengths and allow them to develop their skills?
Then, how do you rank your ability to keep commitments and extend trust? Can people rely on you to do what you say you’ll do? Do you stick to your scheduled meetings and where possible, avoid cancelling? Do you have an open-door policy, so your team feels comfortable interrupting you with questions, or asking for help?
And finally, do you create transparency and inspire confidence? Do you have documented Core Values? Do you live into your Core Values and share examples of your team living into them at meetings? Do you regularly recognise strengths and good work? Do you give your people the credit they deserve? As a leader, your success is a direct reflection of the success your team achieves.
As mentioned, having a clear plan is one of the most important leadership tools for you and your team. This plan needs to articulate your business purpose and vision and provide 3-4 key goals that you want to achieve this year. Your team can then align their personal development plans and goals to your plan. This enables you to focus on what you can do as opposed to worrying about what is out of your control. Of course, we’re here for you and want to help.
The information in this article is general in nature and no substitute for specific, tailored advice and support. There are several ways that we can help you more specifically beyond today’s article…
You can download our complimentary Leadership Self-assessment Worksheet so you can become more aware of your leadership strengths and weaknesses to establish your areas for improvement.
Business Planning is a fundamental framework for improving all of the leadership areas we’ve covered today; for clarified Purpose, Vision and Values right through to planning and goal alignment with your team.
You don’t have a business plan?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most businesses don’t have one either. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create one. In fact, it’s easier than you think. And it all starts with a complimentary meeting with me. I’ll help you get started on your business plan and make sure you’re headed in the right direction.
Click here to schedule your free consultation today.
“The leader is one who, out of the clutter, brings simplicity… out of discord, harmony … and out of difficulty, opportunity.” – Albert Einstein
P.S I hope i’ve given you plenty of ideas to ponder and some clear next steps for you and your business.
Is your business not selling enough? Do you need more inflow? If so, we highly recommend you read this next article to know all about how to properly sell your value.