Lessons in Leadership: Part 2

Beyond building the physical structure of an organisation, leadership moulds a team’s personality.

Leadership training can go a long way towards shaping elements of this personality, in a way that enables managers and bosses to develop a style that suits them.

In the following blog, we consider how listening, proactivity and balance are integral to building a healthy leadership character, and recall authorities that have spoken these attributes.

Keep ears open

Your greatest resource is the combined power of the people around you. It is essential that you listen to feedback and encourage a culture of communication in your team. Many leaders do not know where their next idea will come from, so they allow all perspectives to come to the fore by demonstrating that all opinions are valued.

Agatha Christie: “An appreciative listener is always stimulating.” A best-selling author might be expected to champion listening as a driver for growth, but here Christie focuses on the other side of dynamic, noting how those who are listened to are similarly empowered.

Alan Alda:“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.” The US actor of M*A*S*H fame underlines that being big enough to allow another viewpoint to alter one’s own behaviour is a sign, not only of true listening, but of flexible, progressive leadership.

Get the balance right

Just as variety and moderation are keys to healthy eating, the best leaders recognise balance as essential to success. Where leadership strategy is concerned, bosses should be willing to adapt management styles. It can feel tricky at first but switching hats is necessary to accommodate for nuanced fluctuations in the workplace climate.

Colin Powell: “The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them, or they have concluded that they do not care.” Just as leadership demands reaching out proactively at all times to team members, the 65th US Secretary of State underlines how those in charge must consciously make efforts to work with those around them; trust is an adhesive of all successful teams.

Kriyananda (Born James Donald Walters): “Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance.” Too many leaders indulge notions of status that true leaders recognise as illusion. Humility and a constant effort to help others form the best tactic against this dangerous mindset. In an everyday sense it means being there for your team every step of the way, ensuring all members have the tools and support they need to excel in their jobs.

Take challenges head-on

No problem is too big for the best bosses. Even those who don’t know how to overcome a challenge are armed with a fundamental truth: they’re sure as hell not going to fail. This belief is infectious and will attract similarly minded people who feel they can help your cause.

Robertson Davies: “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”  The US novelist and playwright’s words in Tempest-Tost describe how belief can create doors where once there were only walls. The way forward may not be known or written in a guidebook, but if a leader has a true instinct for what their success feels like, then they have it within them to reach that success.

Henry Ford: “Don’t find fault, find a remedy”. The best leadership starts working to find a way forward at the soonest possible opportunity. The tenet puts a high value on time, recognising the importance of not putting off tomorrow’s task when it can be done today. On a deeper level, the American industrialist’s words highlight pointing the finger of blame as a symptom of weakness in leadership.