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Leadership as a people enabler – are you getting it right?

For me, Leadership should be about enabling your people to be the best they can be. Next Steps are often called in to support and coach leaders and it’s an area we’re incredibly passionate about. Seeing leaders go from good to great and the subsequent improvement in organisational performance is really rewarding. Here are the 5 key pointers that I use when I’m working with clients’ leadership teams.

1. Clearly position company goals, culture & values. We all know that it’s crucial everyone is working towards the same goal. What we’re not always good at, is articulating that in a simple way. I’ve lost count of how many seriously lengthy and overcomplicated strategy presentations I’ve seen that have simply lost the audience. My advice is to keep your communications simple and memorable – your strategy could be summarised with a picture, cartoon or infographic – something that will resonate across your audience from the Executive teams through to operational level.

2. Get to grips with your team relationships. Do you really understand the dynamics within your teams? It’s worth investing time in this – we’re often called in to investigate a perceived process problem only to find out that it’s actually a people or in-team issue. Get close to your team and consider using mechanisms such as listening groups to really understand the root cause of your biggest issues. In my experience the answers are usually found within the teams.

3. Maximise collaboration across critical functions. Making sure that the functional goals are aligned across the organisation is crucial to ensure everyone is working towards the same common purpose. Make time to understand cross functional dependencies and build relationships with peers to enable your (and their) team’s success. Examine the relationships where cross functional interaction is required and make sure those relationships are as positive and productive as possible.

4. Look after the individual. One of the frequently overlooked aspects of great leadership is the ability to be human and really knowing your team as people – what’s going on in their lives, what drives them and how they work. The impact that can have on loyalty and performance is huge. Look after your people, support and coach them, work with them on individual development plans and regularly review how they’re doing against clear measures. Everyone is different so consider using mechanisms such as ‘Situational leadership tool’ to help you map out what your people need from you.

5. Take your team with you on the journey. Make time to regularly review progress against “the what”, “the how” and “the output” so everyone is clear on progress (and their accountability) against the organisational goals. That will also enable you to celebrate success. You won’t have all the answers so make sure you’re fully maximising the varied skillsets within your teams to drive the organisational performance that you need.

To find out more about how Next Steps can help with team and leadership development, please do contact me.

Kevin Thomas, CEO, Next Steps Consulting

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