Over the years, the field of leadership has been intensely studied. And by all accounts, the old model of leadership is now dead, and the new way of leading is here. We have seen from countless studies of how human beings function that the practice of a leader shouting out orders from the top to followers at the bottom is not what brings out the best in people. As a result, more and more leaders are recognising the power of facilitative leadership, i.e. replacing ‘shouting orders’ with ‘asking questions’, and making a conscious effort to lead from a place that is more aligned with how human beings best function.
‘Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another’ (John C. Maxwell).
How are you doing as a leader? Here are five top ideas to help you reflect and take your leadership to the next level.
1. Are you yourself?
Oscar Wilde’s quote, ‘Be yourself, everyone else is taken’ is most relevant here. The best way to lead authentically is to be aligned with your beliefs and values, not what you see others doing or what others are expecting you to do. Are you leading from your values and beliefs or are you leading in a particular way to simply keep the peace?
2. What mind-set do you have about your leadership?
Sometimes, the beliefs we have may sabotage our effectiveness as leaders. If I believe that, ‘I am just a woman’ or ‘just a junior officer at work’, how is that going to affect the way I speak forthrightly and hold others accountable for agreements made? Maintaining an ‘enabling’ mind-set allows you to lead in a more influential way. So, if there is something not going according to plan in your leadership, ask yourself the question; ‘What do I believe about this problem?’ Then check if those beliefs, attitudes, and thoughts support your leadership or hinder it. Depending on what the answer is, there may be a need for you to change your mind-set in order to get better results.
3. How approachable are you?
‘The lowest form of leadership is to lead from your title’ – (Unknown).
Approachability is about who you are to others. Are you the kind of person that, when someone has a problem, they can talk to you freely about it? Do people feel comfortable telling you the whole truth and nothing but the truth without fear of being judged by you? Greeting others, checking in on them and their family, smiling, and showing interest in what they care about, congratulating them for small and big things; these are some of the quick ways to connect with others and become more approachable.
4. To what extent do you bring the best out in others?
This is about being able to guide people and make their development a priority. The best leaders bring out the best in others. Other people’s growth and engagement is of extreme importance in your leadership journey. Being deliberate about looking for what they are succeeding in, and seeking out their dormant talents is key to you bringing out the best in them. Setting time aside on a regular basis to have constructive and productive conversations with each of your team members is a must.
5. How would you rate your listening skills?
Effective leadership is shown through your ability to listen to the totality of what the person is communicating – not just the words coming out of their mouth. Sometimes the words might be ‘Yes’, but the body language is saying ‘No’. This makes it important to ask the right questions to uncover what the person is truly communicating to you. It enables you to lead effectively with reliable information from your team members. Effective leaders ask the right questions, and then listen selflessly.
Most importantly, as you continue to work on being the best leader you can be, remember that leaders who want to be their best have the daily practice of self-reflection. Take a moment at the end of each day to ask yourself ‘How did I do today, and what do I need to improve tomorrow?’ In this way, you will move forward and make the progress you desire.