How to be better leaders has been a continual conversation, topic for debate and pondered by the best experts since the beginning of time. As the world of business and work evolves in the modern landscape, so too does the discussion around what the magical, unicorn formula is to better leadership. How can we get people to do what we want them to do? How can we reduce the costs of attrition and poor engagement?
What if a key problem to our success in leadership is to do with the questions we are asking?
Questions like the above completely miss a vital point of leadership in the modern business landscape. They focus on alleviating the symptoms of getting it wrong for so long, as opposed to how to drive success into the future. The key to that vehicle comes in the form of a fundamental understanding that being a leader isn't actually about you. It's not about your business. Your bottom line. Your engagement scores. It's about the people you lead, whether they are employees, fans, followers or clients.
That's right, your success as a leader is simply about facilitating the success of others. It comes with great responsibility and sacrifice.
It seems the majority of us acknowledge that leadership is about the people you lead and serve, yet how many leaders are still out there building empires that are all about themselves? How many leaders are out there plugging up holes in their sinking ship, instead of investing into building a new one? It's not to say these leaders don't care about the people they lead or serve - the majority of them do. It simply isn't demonstrated in an effective way and the spotlight is on the wrong part of this equation being, ‘what they can do for us?’ as opposed to ‘how we can facilitate their success?’
How exactly does genuinely investing in the success of those we lead contribute to our success as leaders?
When we shift our focus from what they can 'do' for us to how we can empower and develop them to apply their skills and talents towards the greater purpose, something amazing happens. Suddenly, they become more invested in us and our purpose. They teach us things we would have otherwise never learned. The positive impacts to business become an organic part of the process - it's a by-product of a powerful human to human connection and the cultivation of talents we otherwise would have dismissed.
What leaders often fail to understand is the short term sacrifice for the long term gain that benefits the collective. They fail to understand that the rewards for getting this right, far outweigh what leaders have sacrificed to achieve it. It's like the classic salad and hamburger scenario - we can keep eating the hamburger now, and enjoying the comfort it brings in the short term, or make a conscious choice to eat the salad and be patient for the higher value rewards further down the track.
Now, you may be sitting there wondering if facilitating the success of those you lead means giving them everything they want? This is a common misunderstanding that we need to clear up before delving any further in this conversation. We know, as leaders, that facilitating someone's success sometimes means having hard, yet necessary conversations, or saying no, in the best interests of the other person.
It's the way we go about these conversations, in a way that still champions their success and empowers their thinking, that matters. This often means asking more questions than answering them. The majority of people understand outcomes if they feel they have been treated fairly and that their interests have been genuinely considered. It's a strategy and balance that's important to get just right.
As the world progresses, people are increasingly wanting work with purpose and to feel like their contribution is being made towards a mission greater than themselves. Regardless of whether that mission is ending world hunger or a passion for fast cars, they seek the fulfilment that comes along with being empowered to channel their skills and talents into their work (as opposed to just 'doing a job'). How many leaders deny those they lead the opportunity to do a job better, in favour of trekking the same worn paths? How many leaders forget to ask what those we lead can teach us?
The key to success is figuring out how to demonstrate genuine investment in and care for the success of those we lead - not for the purpose of getting the best out of them, but for the purpose of helping them to be their best.
If you're a female entrepreneur who is ready and committed to being a better leader in the modern business landscape, please feel free to get in touch via www.shevonnejoyce.com so we can discuss how together we can achieve it.