I recently overheard (more like listened to – terrible habit I know!) a long conversation between 3 people about their boss. Much of what was said was complimentary but the conversation wasn’t without its negatives.
Their words brought home something I hadn’t understood before or really appreciated despite my years in corporate and business life.
Teams no matter how big or small spend a lot of time talking about their leaders. I couldn’t find any research that quantifies this but my guess is that at least 10% – if not more – of team talk resolves around the quality of leadership.
Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon said, “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. And as a leader they are going to say a lot about you. So how can you make this hidden conversation, the words said behind your back, positive and inspiring? At least for most of the time.
The beauty industry is blessed with brilliant leaders. I’ve worked and still do with some of the best. Look up leadership on Google and you will be overwhelmed by the quantity of material. What follows are 10 thoughts that are perhaps not so obvious.
1. As a leader be true to yourself. Don’t pretend to be something you are not. Quiet leaders are just as effective as those whose personalities are more ebullient. If you try to act in a way that is not aligned to your true self, you will eventually get found out. Your team is sharp, can see though your charade and you may find you are boxed into a way of behaving each day that makes work a nightmare.
2. Give your team air to breathe and space to do their job. In over 40 years of corporate life and running my own business I have yet to meet one person who enjoys being micro-managed. It simply doesn’t work. If your team doesn’t meet the standards you demand, then train or replace those team members who stop you achieving the ambitions you have set.
3. Aim for being respected first and liked second. I’ve often thought that the mix should be equal but that may not be right nor possible for every leader. Respect is vital, but without being liked teams will not go through brick walls on your say so. Strive for a balance between the two that suits your personality. If you get this right you can even change the pervading culture of a company for the better.
4. Be constantly decisive. Leaders are often frightened of making any decision at all for fear of choosing the wrong path. Unsure of what needs to be done they delay while the company meanders along like a boat adrift. Seek the opinion of others in the business. Get into the habit of making decisions – most you will get right; some you will get wrong. If others see you as decisive you will gather trust and respect amongst your team. They will without hesitation come to you for help in resolving problems. It’s all part of being respected.
5. Encourage your team to ask questions, to raise concerns, to think of better ways of doing things. No leader can do everything on his or her own. The more your team is involved, the more insight they will gain, the more effective they become, the more support you will receive, the more issues they will resolve and on and on in a self-fulfilling upward spiral of success. It works every time.
6. Have a team that has the skills to make up the gaps in your ability. If you are not detail oriented, make sure that someone in your team has that skill in abundance. If your strength is in seeing the bigger picture you need team members who excel at dealing with the day-to-day activities necessary for the bigger picture to emerge.
7. Don’t panic when faced by what may seem an intractable business problem. Panic spreads fear amongst a team just when the ability to navigate a way through a problem is most needed. Be assured that strong and experienced leaders will have seen a sufficient number of unfixable crises cruise straight past them.
8. Laugh a lot. If you don’t understand why, then please question why you are a leader at all.
9. Don’t say “I don’t care about what my team think of me, I’m only interested in the results”. Some choose that. If you do, you need to stick with that attitude with immense conviction and commitment because your slightest fall from grace will be met with great joy. I once heard someone say that “Hell was when God sat you on his knee and told you what people really thought of you.” Not a pleasant thought at all.
10. The most difficult and demanding person a leader has to manage is him or herself. It’s never easy when leadership requires a heavy hand, and decisions made that are unpopular. The willingness to let your team shine and the strength to take the blame when things go wrong are values that require self-discipline. Jordan Peterson (12 Rules for Life) makes a meaningful quote applicable to leadership. A great leader will say “Did what I want happen? No. Then my aim or methods were wrong. I still have something to learn”. Authentic, truthful, willing to take the blame and learn, self critical, questioning and unfearful. All attributes that every great leader has in abundance.
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