Monday July 11, 2011
By Jo Harley, Director
One of the most frequently written about topics in business is leadership. And no wonder - a clear understanding of, along with good implementation, will result in success within the workplace. The recent DDI Global Leadership forecast found, ‘organisations with the highest quality leaders are 13 times more likely to outperform their competition’ - a no brainer really.
The cliché, ‘great leaders are made not born', is a very attractive notion to all the theorists, development companies and HR Directors; impling that if someone is given the opportunity, development , guidance and support, and if they want to, they can become a great leader. So an organisation ‘does some leadership development’ and voila - great leaders and great success! Easy eh?
Maybe not. The DDI survey of 12,000+ participants found that ‘only 38% of leaders rated the quality of leadership in their organisation highly’. A shocking statistic given the amount of time and effort that has been spent understanding leadership and putting forward theory on how to be great at it.
Attempting to understand the background to leadership is a confusing subject as there are so many, often conflicting, philosophies out there; from situational leadership, to transformational leadership to contingency theories. Add to this the thousands upon thousands of books written by successful leaders and it's hard to know where to start. Reading how Jack Welch, Richard Branson or Anita Roddick did it is all very well, but how does this apply to the individual and how is it possible to do something that will make a difference and ‘stick’ within your organisation?
This I believe is the heart of the matter, all the theories and development in the world can only make a difference if they are relevant and in context. And since every organisation is different and has its own unique characteristics surely we should be abandoning the ‘one size fits all’ approach and looking at what leadership means for each company rather than trying to emulate what has already been done.
At a slight risk of oversimplifying (and at learnpurple we do like to keep things simple) despite the myriad of information available; we believe there are very easy and low cost ways to implement great leadership. Here are six simple steps to do so. All it takes is time, commitment, consistency and communication:
1.There is no point in having one great leader
It almost goes without saying that every manager needs to become a leader but everyone in your organisation that has contact with another individual should also be working on their leadership skills. People can use leadership skills in many different ways, with colleagues, clients and to manage up and down By developing these skills within all, continually enhancing capability it’s possible to create ‘leaders at all levels’. We love that!
2. Spend some time defining what makes a great leader in your company
Do you have a leadership definition? Is this something that all your people aspire to? Is it communicated well within the organisation?
3. Work out what your top leadership traits are
In our soon to be published book, ‘Purple your people’, Jane Sunley discusses the attributes that great leaders should aspire to. See if you can get this down to five memorable words that the leaders in the organisation live by. They should complement the values of the organisation and work for the size and demographic of the company.
4. Understand the people that you work with
How do the people in your team communicate? How do they learn? People are inspired by leaders that take an active interest in them and their development.
Firstly make the leadership values very transparent and define how each is going to work on a day to day basis within the company. It’s good for all people to know how their leaders are being measured. Make this part of ‘how we do things round here’ and ensure people get the opportunity to have their say.
6. LIVE it….
Live and breathe your values in everything you do; whether it's working with each other, or your clients. Think about what your leadership values are and put them into practice.
Here at learnpurple our leadership values are:
- Outcome focus
- Role model
- Emotional intelligence
By living your values you will find your people will rate the quality of leadership in their organisation highly.
Are you doing any of these six? What success are you seeing?