It isn’t unexpected really that many leaders would aspire to becoming the perfect leader. After all we live in a world that seems to be driven by perfection. Our magazines, advertising, movies, etc show us a world of beauty and prestige (they rarely show us the real world). Great leaders are no different. We see them as confident, humble and genuinely nice people. We see perfection in them and believe they must be perfect.
The truth is that the greatest leaders across the globe all have flaws. And not just one flaw, probably many. You see, at the end of the day they are just human like the rest of us.
So what has helped them become so great? I believe luck has played a part so too has their abilities and knowledge. But the greatest contributor to their success lies within. Great leaders know, understand and manage their flaws.
Over the years they have come to understand the impact their flaws have on their performance and their people. They’ve discovered what their trigger points are and how to manage them. They have practiced and perfected control mechanisms so that they appear cool and calm on the outside despite having doubts or fears running rampant internally.
To be a great leader you need to understand firstly who you are as a person and as a leader. Being a skilled leader isn’t just about how well you manage a budget or execute on a project. Its also about the soft stuff – your emotions, perceptions, fears and self esteem. Its about understanding why you think and behave the way you do and always looking for opportunities to improve. Over the years I have known a number of leaders who were great at managing but poor at leading. I really felt for the teams they looked after.
Fortunately many leaders are looking to improve and become a better leader for others. Some embark on a personal journey through reading leadership development books in their own time and gaining insight this way. Others use a Leadership Coach who holds them accountable for the improvements they commit to making. A third group rely on the formal leadership development training they receive from their organisation. It doesn’t matter how you do it, the important thing is to take action.
If you are keen on being a good leader you need to be self aware and dive deeply into understanding how and why you behave and think as you do. You need to be open to asking and receiving feedback and advice and be courageous enough to change and improve. This form of leadership development never stops. You will always have flaws but that’s ok because at the end it is how you manage these that makes the greatest change.
Poor time management has to be the main cause of leaders feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at work. It seems that attending effective communication and time management training does little to help. A recent study found that CEO’s can have just 8 minutes a day to do the work they want to do. What sort of leader does this create?
I have observed leaders in many work settings over the years and I have found three main reasons for leaders struggling to manage their time and get work done.
Too many meetings.
How many meetings do you attend a week? How many do you feel are worthwhile and valuable? Meetings seem to be sacrosanct in most organisations regardless of the value they provide. Most leaders I know consider meetings a monumental waste of time that has a massive impact on a leader’s time management. But still calendars are filled with meeting attendance.
We can’t say no
Leaders are critical to the success of an organisation but too often they end up involved in things that add little value and take up so much time. I think that one of the leadership skills for today’s busy world is the ability to say no. All too often I see leaders
- solving problems that their team members should and,
- keeping poor performers in their team rather than manage them out of the business, and
- having little faith or trust in their team’s abilities and so they do the work themselves.
All of this takes time away from what you should be doing. It is de-energising and demoralising.
Open plan office
My third reason why leaders fail with their time management is the open plan office. The philosophy behind open plan is that everyone is visible and available for everyone, all hours, all day. The down side with this availability is the lack of opportunity to get work done. Need a problem solved? Go see your leader. Need someone to whinge or gossip to? Its easy to find someone with open plan.
What can you do to improve your time management and get results? I have three suggestions. Be warned though. These suggestions will cause others to question your actions
Rule 1: Minimise the meetings
Assess the meetings and only attend those that have value to your role. Consider attending just the part you need to and not the whole meeting If there are several agenda items you want to listen to/participate in request that these are scheduled together. Require that an agenda be written and sent out a day before the meeting so you can provide answers / input via email if you believe this will be a better use of your time.
Rule 2: Develop your team
Work to empower, upskill, and performance manage your team. Make sure that the responsibility sits clearly with the right person. Ensure you have the best team possible and keep challenging them to grow and learn. This will be the greatest investment you can make into improving your time management.
Rule 3: Time Management in your calendar
Schedule in 2 – 3 x 45 minute blocks per day in your calendar where you are unavailable. During these periods turn off your phone, and don’t look at emails/facebook etc. Use this time to focus exclusively on your value adding tasks and projects. A Production Manager I once worked with had a very different leadership style that received a lot of criticism. He shut his office door and turned his phone off for 3 hours twice a week. Unfortunately a number of his peers had a real problem with his actions. Really? Be selfishly protective of these time slots. in addition, consider scheduling yourself an hour a week at a café and take just a pen and paper. Get back to real basics and use this time to think and plan without interruption or distraction. It will be such a treat. and produce great results.
By doing these simple activities you will be able to wrest back some control of your work day and start to actually get work done. Time management takes discipline and focus because you will be changing habits of yourself and others. It also takes courage to question and challenge accepted routines that gouge into your working hours for no benefit.
What will you do differently tomorrow?
You’d really like your managers and your employees to be working consistently at their optimum so that your business achieves its targets. You probably use training courses to improve their productivity through skills and knowledge development. But did you know that only 15% of success is attributed to technical/functional skills?
If your business trains only for skill development you are missing a significant and crucial element to business success. The other 85% of success is directly related to how your people behave and how they interact with one another. Unfortunately this is not something a training course has a real impact on. Why? The reason is that when we deal with people and behaviour we need to change habits and perceptions and this requires a very different approach.
How can you improve your leaders and employees so that they work better together? Consider hiring a leadership coach.
Why a coach? Here are five benefits of coaching over training.
Only 57% of Australian companies met or exceeded their profit targets for the 2014/2015 financial year. How important is it for your business to meet targets? A Coach will work with the leaders &/or the leadership team to develop strategies for achieving the targets, holding them accountable for their actions. Coaching for execution will add significantly to business success.
Improving communication has long been a key focus in business and an area where a Coach will add significant value. Engagement, influence, and negotiation are the foundations of a great business and competencies best achieved through coaching. Relationships are not the result of good communication. Good communication is the relationship.
It’s a special talent to execute on strategy whilst enabling innovative thinking. Adapting the product, processes, and systems to keep ahead of the game can be stifled by having a mindset that acts against encouraging novel ideas and problem solving. Coaches encourage Leaders to discover, test, and implement a better mindset that increases their ability to trust and take risks and hence innovate.
4. Stress Management.
Today all employees and leaders have to cope with workplace stress and pressure in order to maintain motivation and productivity. But how many do? The business world is more complex and more demanding than it ever has been and this isn’t going to change. Many struggle to cope becoming demotivated, overwhelmed, and disengaged. Coaching helps individuals and teams develop strategies to effectively deal with an uncertain and often changing working environment and remain effective.
5. Time Management.
Highly productive employees and leaders manage their time effectively and assertively. Coaches help develop the discipline, systems and courage needed to manage time and deliver on expectations without the need for excessive working hours.
What is the best investment you can make this year? Hire a Coach. Call 0416 921 233 and get your free consultation.
I caught the train to Perth the other day with a group of lovely women who were all wearing red hats and purple outfits. They were laughing and joking and I couldn’t resist asking what they were all about. They said that belonged to the Red Hat Society. They were part of a global group of women over 50 years old who simply get together and have a lot of fun. So I now have a choice. Do I want to be part of the majority of women aged 50 and over, or should I look forward to joining a small group of women and do something different?
Leaders should aspire to be different too. Every company has leaders. Every charity, community, and sporting group has leaders. They really are very common in our society. So what will make you different? What makes you belong to the top 10% of leaders who aren’t average? To be one of the leaders that leaves a positive legacy with others?
Leadership is not a title or a promotion. To be a good leader it has to be a way of being. Now more than ever businesses need leaders who display great courage and passion for their people. Here are some tips to move from an average to a good leader
Become aware of your own strengths and those of your team. You can only get your team’s full commitment when you have tapped into their hearts and minds. By listening more and talking less you will learn how to inspire others and they will learn to trust you.
Be able to have the tough conversations and deal with concerns as they arise, because they will. Be prepared to stand up for what you and your team believe in. Leadership is a much about the fight as it is about the influence.
Be humble enough to know that you cannot possibly have all the information and all the answers and that your team will be there to help provide them.
Don’t solve your team’s problems. Encourage them to solve them by asking questions rather than providing advice. Your team will grow as a result and you will enable the capability they possess.
Dare to be different. Dare to be better. Have fun and keep learning.