Leading from the front

A fantastic post by Simon Heath on his Work Musing blog this week struck a real chord with me. It was about leaders who don’t know their arse from their elbow, and how there should be a focus on breaking down silos in organisations and building connections.

I make it a rule that I don’t blog about work I’m currently doing but I’m going to make a brief exception here. Over the last two weeks I have been involved in running leadership workshops for each of the managers and leaders in my region.

In line with Simon’s message, we kept it simple. We talked about the traits that the best employers and leaders demonstrate and how can we be better managers. We gave them real life examples of some of the little things good leaders do that make a difference.

There was no mention of team types, or personality types, or team dynamics. No questionnaires that had to be completed. No analysis of individual strengths or weaknesses or leadership qualities. No identification of managerial blind spots. We simply told them what good looks like, what proactive behaviours we know make a difference, and gave them room to develop a vision for their team, the culture and values they want and then plan how they will make a difference as a leader. And we let them talk and connect. It was truly inspiring to see the light go on with so many people.

I feel we often use these team or personality “types” or labels as an excuse to justify our own behaviour. We’ve all been in those team building/sharing discussions that go something like “Well, my team type says I’m an action orientated leader who doesn’t have time for detail. If you want to get a decision out of me you need to come well prepared and get to the point.” In other words, “I’m a pompous, self-absorbed prick who is too busy to give you the time of day or have a meaningful one to one discussion with you so don’t waste my valuable time unless it’s urgent. And I’m not adapting for you or anyone.”

In a post I wrote last year, I said I thought leadership development needed a complete re-appraisal. Like a lot of things in HR, we really just need to strip out the bullshit and make it real and credible. Remind people that success in organisations comes from working successfully across the structure and building strong relationships, not by going it alone. I talked about the need for connected and “conscious” organisations. I believe that now more than ever.

Have we really forgotten how to talk to each other?

Are we really so “connected”, we have no time for real conversations anymore?

If you want to be a leader in whatever you do, just put others first and be genuine. Invest the time.

Try it, it’s not that hard.

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5 thoughts on “Leading from the front

  1. amandasterling says:

    I don’t disagree with your points.. However, telling people what it means to be a great leader is an entirely different thing to them actually being able to do it. Even if their heads are nodding and the lightbulbs are flashing. That’s where the self-reflection and, yes, looking at their individual strengths and weaknesses is very useful. IMO we spend far too much time talking about what great leadership is rather than supporting individuals to achieve great leadership in a way that is authentic to them.

  2. hrmannz says:

    Don’t get me wrong Amanda, I’m a big fan of profiling assessments and the role that can play in development. But that’s management 101 really. Equipping people with basic skills and self awareness. I’m talking about getting people to step up, above and beyond the day to day management, and take the initiative. People need to grasp the opportunity and run with it.

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