In many leadership development programs and one-on-one coaching sessions, participants are asked to think about an inspiring leader who they admire or want to emulate. Often the question is phrased as “When you think of a successful leader, who do you think of…?”
Having been in many sessions where this question has been asked, I have recognised patterns in the answers. They include:
My parents/family member/significant teacher
My first boss/first person to give me a break/first mentor/first person to pity me/first person to sponsor me
Richard Branson/Steve Jobs/the Google guys/Elon Musk
Mandela/Gandhi/Mother Theresa and in recent times, Pope Francis
Individual sports stars who have ran very fast, jumped very high or passed the ball better than anyone else
Politicians… actually never come up for some reason
Bono… once… ok that was me who suggested him…
A few weeks ago I heard an answer that absolutely floored me. One that I had never heard before.
The answer forced me to rethink the question and answer completely.
Recently I shared my thoughts about the power of thinking about which conversations to stop and start having so as to increase leadership and individual effectiveness. The notion is broader than it seems as first. Conversations we are having with ourselves, quietly and internally, regularly dictate how we impact others. Conversations within organisations massively impact how the employees go about delivering the work of that organisation. Disruptive innovations force organisations to have different conversations, such as moving from a conversation about “how good we are”, to one that starts with “our industry is changing rapidly and we need to change or go bust”.
Often leaders decide to change conversations for non-dramatic reasons.
Dean, a leader with many years of international years experience, confessed even he was tired of managing another phase of change in his organisation.
This is not surprising – the more senior the leader, the increasing number of transitions they have to manage.
William Bridges (1991) published “Managing Transitions” where he focussed on the transition as opposed to the change itself. A transition is the internal manifestation of that change that happens within the individual – the psychological impact of the change itself. Whilst this might seem subtle, it is significant as he clarified the emotional impacts the individual experiences during each stage of a transition.
Bridges makes a key point that people experience change even if they don’t agree to or desire it. He highlights three zones of transition people go through when they experience change. He said they are:
So now that January has well started and the promises of New Year’s resolutions are starting to fade, let me propose an alternative for 2015. I suggest leaders make 2015 a year of daily habits. To paraphrase the wonderful Seth Godin, there is a fundamental difference between the things you do every day, every single day and the things you do only when the spirit moves you. When you have committed to a daily doing of something i.e. a habit, you are committed to doing that every day. The difference is that once you’ve committed to doing something daily you find that the spirit moves you, daily. Then the only decision to make is not whether you will or will not do something but rather how you will do it.
Here are 5 of the most simple and effective daily habits that leaders could consider:
A primary role of an organisation leader is to ensure strategy execution. Therefore, we can safely say that one of the key responsibilities for the leader is to ensure accountability is upheld within the organisation.
Many leaders struggle in this area and we believe it is because accountability is a multilayered and sometimes complex notion as opposed to the simplified version of “I will ensure you do what you say you will do”.
A handout for clients on how to develop their direct reports. A guide on how to have developmental conversations for senior leaders. This covers four dimensions for senior leaders to consider when planning regular developmental conversations for their direct reports.
Use this as a planning tool, a conversation tool or merely to share your development ideas for each of your direct reports.