We all know what a difference good leadership makes. We see it in the way people work together, the results they achieve, and the culture they create.
GOOD LEADERSHIP LETS US PERFORM BETTER AND ENGAGE MORE FULLY. IT’S A VITAL ASPECT OF ORGANISATIONAL SUCCESS.
Attending a leadership development program today, is not just a perk for a select few, but a sound strategy for long term sustainability and growth. More and more we are realising that leadership is not just the domain of senior managers, but a skill required at every level, regardless of position or title.
Good leadership is seen in many ways, even when a person does not have a formal management role. This is shown whenever people take responsibility, whether that be by going the extra mile to provide great service, or speaking up when something can be improved. Leadership in this sense means taking ownership of team and organisational outcomes.
UNDERSTANDING CONTEMPORARY LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES
In many aspects of our lives, the rate and scale of change we’re experiencing seems unprecedented. The acronym VUCA has been coined—initially by the US military—to describe an operating environment which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. In a VUCA climate, teams and organisations can struggle to maintain direction or implement long-term strategies. New issues and technologies emerge and can render even our most recent, well-designed plans obsolete.
In this environment, it’s important for organisations to be agile and responsive. The unpredictability of issues is such that sometimes, even with the best intentions, we can find our actions backfire with unexpected consequences. While some problems can be fixed relatively simply, others are more systemic in nature and require a more nuanced analysis. The latter are termed ‘adaptive’ challenges and require a shift in the way they are understood and dealt with.
THRIVING IN COMPLEX ENVIRONMENTS
Increasingly, we will need leaders who can evaluate adaptive challenges calmly, leaders who are comfortable not having all the answers themselves. The very nature of adaptive challenges means that no one person can possibly have all the answers, so the future of leadership will lie in the ability to be curious and collaborative—curious, in that instead of rushing to judgement, future leaders will need to be open to new ideas and information; and collaborative, because they will need to understand the different perspectives of a variety of stakeholders and be able to work together to trial solutions.
It’s no accident that these are the same leadership behaviours that foster innovation. Allowing for divergent views, trialling different approaches and being open to learning from failure will also give rise to a culture which supports real gains in knowledge and effectiveness. In short, these leaders will create cultures and organisations which adapt and flourish.
DEVELOPING ADAPTIVE LEADERSHIP SKILLS
Leading in complexity requires a different approach. Not only do we need to lean into the uncertainty, but we also need to acknowledge that thriving under these conditions will depend on our ability to be open to new approaches and perspectives. While this may seem simple, it’s far from easy in practice. The best leadership development actively challenges and immerses executives in these situations and allows them to practice and build capacity in a safe setting.
Leading in the future may look different in many ways, but fundamentally what makes good leaders still includes self-management and the ability to build relationships.
Some of the key qualities that good leaders exhibit in the workplace are:
Being fully present when someone is speaking allows you to listen not only for content, but for themes that are at the heart of the matter. Giving someone your undivided attention sends a powerful signal about how much you value the person. If you do nothing else, make this a daily habit. It will improve your relationships.
We all have an innate bias to seek problems—to focus on what’s wrong, what needs fixing, and sometimes, who’s to blame. While it’s important to be vigilant, this is only half the equation. When you aim to balance your focus, and spend more time exploring and understanding good performance and outcomes, you’ll end up building a positive culture.
3.Making Feedback Safe
We all worry about how to deliver difficult feedback, but how often do we seek it, or more importantly, receive it graciously? Build trust so that people can deliver such feedback and you’ll gain a wealth of information that lets you see your performance clearly. Show that you are open, can handle difficult news, and can adjust your approach accordingly.
When you put yourself in the shoes of others, you better understand their perspectives. Ask your colleagues to do the same when analysing key issues and stakeholders. If you adopt the attitude that everyone has a slice of the truth (even if they don’t have the whole pie) and ask questions, at every stage, you’ll get to the crux of the information or thinking that really shapes peoples’ views.