4 Keys to Developing Effective Leadership
By Murray K Smith
Business owner. Company Director. Senior Manager. CEO. These are familiar business titles.
In reality, your place or worth as a business person (or within any organization, for that matter) amounts to much more than your title. It’s about how well you grow an effective and successful organization. And to do that you need to grow “big” people. That means that you always aim to build a team of people with drive and confidence who understand the company or business purpose. It also means that you will not be threatened by skills of those you have hired or are working with you, because your goal is to enhance their abilities.
Leadership is a crucial element for senior staff in larger enterprises with responsibility for the growth and future of the business. But in our experience, it seems that small to medium business owners tend to dismiss “leadership” as trivial or irrelevant. Often the concept of leadership is confused with holding a particular position or title within the business, especially if the title carries management responsibility.
The concept of “leadership” is overwhelming for most of us. A common misconception is that we must be born leaders. However, true effective leadership is learned, no matter what your background.
The fact is that everyone is a leader to someone! We are all leaders every day, in our interactions with others. For example, do we speak positively or negatively to others? Do we complain about circumstances or overcome the problem? Do we criticize people or encourage them by finding a quality or skill to commend?
Let me ask another question: Are you aware of the impact you have on people you meet, that you work with or know in other circles? We all have choices. We can smile or say thank you. Or we can ignore people we meet every day. Leadership usually starts in the daily habits of life. You can change how you treat the bank teller, the supermarket check-out assistant, your staff, your clients, your friends and your family.
There are many keys to enhancing your leadership. Here are four ways to help you begin or move forwards:
- Believe that you are a leader.
Start to think of yourself as a leader and be aware that your conduct in your relationship with your staff, suppliers and customers will impact on their view of you as the head of your business or department.
Understand that the ‘culture’ within your organization is an important matter and that you as a leader have a significant effect on that.
Begin to think about what effect you have on your organization and ask colleagues and people you trust how they see you. It may take some courage but can be very rewarding.
Talk to your staff about how they view the business. May I suggest two questions that will almost certainly open the door of communication with your staff:
- Does our organization ‘culture’ (the accepted norms and practices) help or hinder your work?
How do you feel about your role in achieving the business goals?
In your spare time, read books on leadership.
You will be amazed how much your leadership skills can improve. Carry a book with you and try to read for even 10 minutes during a break or at the end of the day. You will find them inspiring and they will help to keep you focused.
Three great leadership books I can recommend to you are:
- Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell by Oren Harari.
Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr Spencer Johnson.
The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel.
Think about how much time you actually spend developing staff and people as opposed to merely conducting the business.
Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State says that unless you are spending at least 50% of your time in some way with your people, your business growth will be stunted.
How could you use that time? Perhaps design a simple, but longer term training plan for staff that is linked to the business goals. Try and ensure that your staff see that you are adding value to them, rather than just using them to achieve business growth. Frequently explain and discuss the company goals and ask them what can be done to improve any aspect of your work together. In the whole process, be certain to give consistent feedback to each team member about their progress and the Company’s growth.
Leadership takes much more than a title or a position. It’s a way of behaving on a daily basis that sets the leaders apart from the managers. By investing the time to practice these 4 tips, you will see your leadership develop and improve.
Murray K Smith is Principal and Director of Leadership Services, a management, leadership and training business operating from Sydney, Australia. As a strategist and facilitator with international experience in training, trouble-shooting and team building, Murray is equipped to assist businesses to create exceptional growth.