The purpose of leadership

People don’t need to be managed, they need to be unleashed - Richard Florida

Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves. - Stephen Covey

Leadership is MANY things, but it all comes down to one thing –

You’re there to help your team to think in a way that –

  • Seeks to challenge their own beliefs and attitudes about what’s possible

  • Allows them to own their role

  • Boosts their personal performance

  • Gives them more job satisfaction

  • Encourages them to contribute to the improvements and innovations in the organisation

  • Guides them in how to solve problems in a way that demonstrates good judgement and thought for consequences

  • Allows them to think of others and the impact decisions have on them

This form of high-impact leadership encourages innovative thinking and empowers the team to ‘own’ not just their own performance but also the outcomes for the entire team. According to a survey conducted and reported in the Daily Mail six out of 10 workers are miserable. Dig into the surveys and you’ll find that the quality of leadership is at the top of the list of complaints. One hundred years ago people were paid for their ability to do physical labour. The dominant management model was master-servant and it was all about getting more return from the labourer for their efforts. When work shifted to data entry and processing, and involved even more repetitive labour (although less physical) the leadership style became one of greater efficiencies. Great intelligence and the ability to think were not high on the attributes needed as a team member.

Then, computers came along and much of this labour became automated. People now got hired to ‘think’. Thinkers who aren’t trained in how to think, however, are going to cost the organisation in terms of poor decisions, poor execution and low consideration for consequences. And the management models are still those of the process era. I see leaders themselves with such poor decision making strategies their team doesn’t stand a chance! Compounding this is the fact that many people want more autonomy in their role, they seek independent thinking and welcome opportunities to make decisions. That’s all just terrific, unless the thinking all of this is based on is flawed to start with. Let’s add to this mess even further and consider that today’s technology is probably going to be outdated in less than five years – it used to take over 100 years for technology to be surpassed – and we now see many innovations outdated within weeks or even days of their invention. And the consumers want the benefits of the new and the latest breakthroughs, so you now need a team that can handle, implement and thrive in a rapidly adapting environment or you get left behind. But I’m not done yet – then add the fact that to truly succeed in business you must be the innovator, and not one of the pack followers – so now you’ve got the leadership team needing to invent new ways of doing business to stay ahead of the pack, not to mention that they can’t do it alone so they need their team contributing ideas as well... It sounds like chaos, and yes, in many ways it is. But managing chaos in such a way that the team thrives, the business is profitable and the clients are delighted is kind of the whole point. I’ve seen an organisation run by someone who valued stability and calm ahead of anything else. It took less than one month for sales to plummet, morale to crash and for 100% of the team to talk about leaving. There was rarely a day that went by that didn’t involve the leader needing to do another ‘pep talk’ for another team member who was feeling stressed, overworked and underappreciated. Turns out calm and stability are not a good way to achieve team satisfaction. The moment the team was re-engaged, encouraged to think and challenged to life their game; there was mutiny, resistance and a genuine belief that it couldn’t be done. Within a month, they had done it, surprising themselves and improving the business. In summary, it’s time leaders learned how to improve people’s ability to think. Many team members are highly capable individuals who will thrive on this approach. They want to work smarter, they want to be smarter, they want to succeed, and they want to thrive. They want to feel genuinely fulfilled by what they do because it counts, have meaning and have contributed beyond themselves. A good day is not ‘getting through the day’. A good day is not ‘it can only get better’. A good day is one where the team member knows that what they did made a difference and they were capable under pressure of finding a way. Give your team that, and you will be amazed at what’s possible.

Article Written by The Coaching Institute TM

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