As Leaders, what opportunities to grow are coming out of the current dynamic?
The positive outcomes of the uncertain times we have faced in recent weeks and will continue to encounter in coming months, has been our willingness to collaborate and provide others with opportunities to grow. The people I have seen and engaged with have confirmed many of the leadership lessons I have learnt and have me positive about how we evolve into the future. In providing a voice for leadership thinking, it could have been easy to write about theories of leadership and apply examples on how to manage in the evolving and uncertain environment.
However, having gone through multiple webinars, read various authors and taking into account my own experience, leadership needs to be applied with substantial context and an intrinsic understanding of what it means within the leaders environment. The importance of reading widely for me has grown my beliefs outside of leadership theory. Simon Sinek has been on my reading list with The Infinite Game being my read of choice. My encouragement of leaders out of this engagement is to have a focus on the people in their charge by leading in an infinite way. We should expand our thinking to create environments where plans and choices invest in people, with those followers becoming better people, highly skilled and want to belong to our brand to achieve organisational goals far into the future. His Golden Circle is an important thought process for everyone, particularly for leaders, as without understanding why we do what we do, then we become task oriented individuals constantly seeking direction. It made me ask the question, if we have little clarity on our why and a finite focus on our plans, is there a risk that people around leaders stop following and gravitate to those who do? Brene Brown is the other author of substance on leadership I have taken many lessons from. Her ability to encapsulate thinking through ongoing, honest and brave conversations is a must. Without those ongoing conversations, leaders and followers seek to find their own way and potentially a path that diverts away. Those relationship building skills of communicating with clarity and understanding ourselves as well as the people in our charge, is the best way of keeping attachment and belonging at the front of our minds. I hope many of you may have read the book 'Legacy' about the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Union team. Whilst Sinek and Brown have solidified my thinking around leadership, it was Legacy that built the foundation. The great leaders I have grown up with have exuded the belief that only by a high level of self awareness can you be an effective leader. In doing so, those leaders knew how they will react, what decisions they would make and how they understand their people. By having this understanding, leaders can create better leaders. My biggest lesson in the last 18 months has been this key point. A value of self knowledge has opened up a greater internal perception to be part of bigger and wider opportunities as well as help others grow into their own understanding. I think this point can be lost on many. We focus our time on what gets us to our finite goals, rather than utilising our strengths to grow ourselves and those in our charge to be better. This should not be a missed opportunity on those who don't have official leadership status. I agree with the sentiment that leadership is not a role, it is a journey. As a follower, you have the opportunity to lead in the current environment. Followers have important strengths to offer, high quality perspective and the want to be heard as well as involved. It is imperative that you speak up and offer what you can to support those leaders who are potentially operating in crisis mode. I always reflect back on my early years in the elite officiating squad, and there was one individual who grabbed my attention. Never one to be selected in official leadership groups, they for me exuded the best of leadership, because of their ability to lead by influence. Not an extrovert, they were able to lead by action, speak quietly to encourage and had an enthusiasm that was infectious for the rest of the group. They were someone who you would follow, as they were interested in growing others skills for the benefit of the higher purpose. You are always leading someone. There are people who look up to you in whatever you do and the understanding you have of yourself will influence how people see your leadership. For those who hold leadership roles, it is the strongest of leaders who can take themselves out of a situation and utilise the skills of others to make sure that the best solution is offered. Those standout leaders have an ability and take the time to continually reflect on who they are as people first, so they can then lead others effectively. Asking questions like: What strengths do they have? What do they understand about themselves in the scenarios and groups they lead? Their knowledge of the people in their charge and how they are seeking to grow their capacity? What positive influence are they having over the people they have in their charge and hopefully their wider community? As a great leader, you will know yourself, know your why and seek to attract those who align with it, then grow those people with the skills to continually meet the common purpose of your group.