Leadership Insights

I was posed an age old question on LinkedIn recently through one of the leadership groups I am part of:

Can leadership truly be taught? Is it an innate skill that we are born withor can it be learned?

I have been asked this question hundreds of times, and my answer has changed almost each time I have been asked (with my thoughts often dominated by the more recent group of leadership participants). Now, I am not much of a gardener (more brown thumb than green!), but the metaphor of a growing tree seems to fit my current thoughts on leadership more than any other, having worked with adolescent and adult leaders for the past 4 years.

Leadership is a very popular topic at the moment. Politicians don’t show enough of it (or the right type), mining CEO’s are vocal about it and football teams have so much of it they have leadership groups and sub-groups. Everyone has an opinion on what is good leadership, and (according to the media) it seems that all of the identifiable leaders in Australia seem to lack it in some substantial way.

Have we made the definition of good leadership so unattainable that mere mortals can’t achieve it?

You arrive at work with a clear idea of what you want to achieve for the day. There is a morning meeting, you have a few reports to read and respond to, and you need to check on your team. You have a report due to your boss by COB, but you have the afternoon to complete it – plenty of time. As you settle in to complete the report, your office / workspace becomes like Heathrow Airport, no sooner does one person leave than you are faced with another question, another email, another phonecall, another interruption to what was a perfectly planned day.

Have you ever made a mistake in business?

I realised recently that I made a mistake within Kameleons - Developing Leaders, but it took me a while to realise it and quite a bit longer to accept it. Has this been you when faced with owning up to a mistake?

Are meetings taking up far too much of your work life? Feeling frustrated by poorly planned meetings or Chairpeople not controlling the participants? Feel like the meetings you attend are directionless or out of control? Are you often wondering why you were invited to the meeting at all?

The wonderful thing I love about working in the leadership development space is that inspiration for great leadership can abound everywhere. While traveling for my last international training engagement, I stopped at the airport newsagent to pick up something to read. I usually head for the management books (a little sad I know), but one magazine on sporting rifles caught my attention.

The leadership hierarchy needs to be understood by all of the team.

 Nothing confuses a dog more than a lack of understanding of who is the leader. Having recently worked with a dog trainer to help us with Jake, I was told that most families confuse their dogs (and the dogs understanding of their place in the family hierarchy) through a lack of understanding of some very simple actions. Who provides the dog its food, who gets attention first and who leads when going for a walk might seem like small things to us, but they communicate an awful lot to a dog regarding their place in the team.

In a recent editorial in BRW (Mar 1-7), Kate Mills highlighted her 5 lessons that company leaders should be taking from the recent power struggle between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. Kate stresses that the leadership crisis isn’t just in politics but in leadership in the corporate world as well.

In this respect I couldn’t agree more. Employees and middle Managers in all industries are looking for authentic leaders that can think beyond the bottom line and provide them with real goals, real understanding of what they are doing and real meaning to make their job worthwhile.

Consider this - how many emails do you delete a day without reading the entire email? 10, 20? What makes you delete them so quickly? Another thing to consider - have you every attended a meeting where you just wanted to person talking to get to the point? If so (or if this person has been you), then perhaps they / you need to consider what is being said and ensure that it is more effective. Here are a few tips to help.

About Kameleons

We develop leaders that build high performing teams to deliver improved business outcomes.
We refine leadership skills and behaviours for optimal people performance.
We utilise individual strengths and addressing skill deficiencies to meet and exceed personal and business expectations.

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Kameleons (ABN 44 155 387 198)

Our offices are located in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Kameleons - Developing Leaders Pty Ltd
M: 0409 627 270
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