Leadership Insights

There is an 80% Chance They Are – Here’s How to Fix It

How many times have you thought 'it will just be easier to [insert task] myself'?

As a leadership facilitator and Executive Leadership Coach, I have the privilege of working with a large number of committed, hard-working leaders. One particular challenge that many of these leaders face is getting things done -

'Go, go, go!' I heard many parents yell at the State Sprint swimming championships on the weekend. I am sure the excitement, passion and vested interest the parents held for the athletes in the water made them feel they had an impact, but for the athlete in the water (50 metres away with head down in the water focussed on the race) it had little.

I observed a CEO recently doing the same thing for her staff - she pulled out her phone and played a pre-recorded video of her grandson yelling 'Go, go, go!'. This was her mantra that she would share at the end of a call with her team or a meeting. Feeling motivated yet?

We have all heard of the fight or flight response. Two options, not much information, stress mounting, time critical decision. Yes or no? Go backward or forward? Left or right? Buy or sell? Fight or flight? What is often forgotten when people talk about fight or flight is the third response - not making a decision (perhaps because in nature, where Walter Cannon first described the response, those animals that hesitate don't survive).

'Where there is great power, there is great responsibility', Winston Churchill, 1906

Leading any group of individuals takes time, effort and courage. When assuming responsibility for a business or a team, there is both privilege and an expectation of service to that business or team. A CEO, or any leader taking ultimate responsibility for a business and the people within it, has 5 expectations to fulfil and maintain. Failure to attend to any or all of these expectations creates both short and long term issues for both the business, and more importantly, the people in it.

Is the main function of a leader to produce more leaders?

A recent post on LinkedIn questioned this premise - stating that everyone could be a leader if they were a 'thought leader' or if people followed their ideas. My response is that if a function of leadership is to produce more leaders, then one of the actions of leaders is to be able to positively influence others. I think of leadership as a series of levels, each requiring more ffort than the one below it.

More often than not, business leaders wait too long to identify, nurture and develop leaders in their business. By the time most businesses consider leadership development training, poor communication, values and behaviours have become so ingrained it can be hard to undo. These mistakes can hamstring both the individuals development and the businesses future. I believe there are 5 lessons managers could learn from leadership development in the military.

If you have been in a leadership or management role for any length of time, I am sure you would have heard some of these statements or know the analogies:

  • Leaders do the right things, and managers do things right.
  • A good leader will lead by example, and let their actions do the talking.
  • A leader should have a helicopter view and be able to see their organisation as a whole, and not get stuck in the weeds.

When it comes to training staff, many businesses approach the process similar to older, amateur sportsmen, when in fact they should emulate the sports training of their youth. Let me explain.

My physiotherapist told me several weeks ago 'This is an old man's injury' after tearing my calf muscle after a game of basketball. After questioning my training (and having to get over the fact that I am now old), we discovered that my once a week game, accompanied with no training and hardly any warm-up, was downright dangerous to my health. This is a situation i would never have contemplated as a teenager, with judo and tennis coaches ensuring I practised with their 'no train, no game' credo in mind.

In a recent edition of Leading Company, David James asked the question ‘Do Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits stack up’.

My response, given the vast number of businesses and managers I have worked with is: absolutely!

For those that don’t know, Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold more than 25 million copies with its teachings quoted by Managers and corporate trainers (including myself) often.

Mention customer service in a conversation and I guarantee you will hear comments such as these:

‘Store ## needs better customer service!’ 

‘The people that work at Store ## are so rude / ignorant / self-absorbed, they had no idea how to provide customer service.’

‘The customer service of at store / restaurant / business ## is terrible!’

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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Our offices are located in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Kameleons - Developing Leaders Pty Ltd
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