The Lessons of Great Leadership

Leadership is something you do, not something you are born with. It may not be possible to teach, but it certainly is possible to learn. This list creates an overview of the behaviours and activities that underpin great leadership:

1. Clear Strategic Intent The ability of the leadership to set and continually reinforce the vision for the Organisation. Having the courage to outline what is possible to achieve and getting the people to understand the exciting future. Getting motivation through continually reminding people of the importance of taking the Organisation forward and giving inspiration on achieving extraordinary results.

2. Assembling the Team

  1. Get to know each other: Understanding how important it is to know what the team members are like. Knowing what their attitudes, opinions and objectives are as well as their style of working. Realising it is important to devote time to ‘the team’ as opposed to ‘the task’.

  2. Job allocation: Having clear roles and responsibilities and encouraging each team member to become an expert in their field. Having the trust that each team member knows what they are doing and ensuring that their contribution is valued.

  3. Information: High performing teams rely on plenty of information. They want to know what is happening and how their contributions affect the performance of the team as a whole.

  4. Goal Setting: Having a clear process for setting and monitoring short-term and long-term goals. Ensuring that these goals are reviewed and adjusted dependant on the performance of the team, and making sure they are challenging without being impossible.

  5. Boldness and Decisiveness: Having the inspiration to make decisions even though there may not be complete information available. Not playing it safe, which is usually too late. Having the courage to admit to a poor decision, and adapting quickly without huge recriminations and postmortems

  6. Follower or Pioneer? Being  prepared to take a risk and being a pioneer. There are times when good ‘Followship’ is essential. However, most winning teams have to take a chance and pioneer at times.

3. Running the Team

  1. Clear Briefing: Spending time briefing the team clearly on a specific task, or project, before it is started. Not relying on ‘seat of the pants’ management. Ensuring that most actions are worked out before the task is attempted rather than playing it by the ear as it goes along.

  2. Performance Review: Reviewing performance regularly to see where improvements should be made. Having an ethos that the team themselves review performance as a matter of discipline, and not relying on the leadership to suggest this happens.

  3. Avoid ‘Blame Culture’: The attitude of learning from mistakes, but not having a witch hunt. ‘Leaving it on the wave behind’ rather than indulging in personal witch hunts to find out not whether it was right or wrong, but rather whose fault it was.

  4. Empathy: Having an ethos of genuine caring for the well-being of others. Helping the less experienced or skilled in the team so that they feel they have people who they are able to look to for help.

  5. Scuttlebutt: Making sure there is no malicious gossip. Having the culture that says clearly that gossip is unacceptable and if the person has a gripe with another team member then their duty is to sort it out face to face, or keep quiet.

4. Maintaining the team

  1. Not all are heroes: Understand that not all team members are in the limelight. Finding people who support the performance of the team and realise that some of the less noticeable actions contribute hugely to the overall performance. Finding these unsung heroes and giving them the recognition they deserve.

  2. Continuous improvement: Making sure there is an ethos of looking for ways to improve performance and that these ideas are encouraged and recognised.

  3. Coaching: Making sure that team members realise that they are expected to learn new skills and are relied upon to keep themselves up-to-date. Also to realise that teaching and coaching others is the responsibility of all, and that they must spend time helping others to improve their skill levels.

  4. Quiet word: Spending time giving words of encouragement and congratulation to team members. The ability to notice the little things that people contribute and acknowledging this contribution by having a quiet word.

  5. Formal Briefings: Giving time to organise formal briefings which run efficiently with a proper agenda and clear starting and finishing times. Making sure that these times are kept to and no waffle is allowed.

Here we go. Next on the agenda is what are the Lessons of Great Followership… stay tuned!

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