Being a leader is about being impregnable, right?

Perhaps not.

The stereotype for a strong leader is someone who has all the answers; has a “shield of steel” level of confidence that just can’t be breached.

But that’s actually not the full story.

Sure, being confident is important.

People will follow a confident leader.

Let’s face it, it’s hard to inspire people to come on a journey with you if you don’t fill them with confidence that you know what you’re doing, you believe in the mission, and you are skilled in overcoming the inescapable problems that will arise along the way.

But we have all met the impregnable leader as well, haven’t we?

You know, the one that you just know is putting up a front; a façade that that they will not allow to be breached.

Why do they do that?

It strikes me that people relate to real people and we all have our vulnerabilities.

You know, the ones that niggle away late at night, the ones that shout at you when you are standing on stage about to give a speech; the ones that actually make you think twice before acting; and the ones that have saved you on many occasions.

Actually, being vulnerable is an important element to be authentic and successful and grounded.

And people follow authentic leaders.

So why hide a great strength?

It doesn’t mean that you become a blubbering ball of uncertainty or an amoeba!

But it does mean acknowledging that you have some areas where you feel the same as everyone else – vulnerable, exposed, knowing that you have a weakness.

People will help, they will complement you and compliment you. They will better understand you. They are more likely to come on a journey with you.

So being impregnable might not be providing you the benefit you think it is. Because your brand is what other people think of you, right?

My question is this – are you brave enough to be vulnerable?

To get the slingshot effect of Synergy…

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As you know, in my view leadership is very much about creating followship.

And once you have followship, you have a group of followers, right?

I’m not a great fan of groups.

“In mathematics, a group is an algebraic structure consisting of a set of elements equipped with an operation that combines any two elements to form a third element. The operation satisfies four conditions called the group axioms, namely closure, associativity, identity and invertibility.”

Que?

Ok, ok. I’m making a point.

I like musical groups. And I guess a group of ducklings is cute!

But an effective group must become a team. And when you have a team, you can have synergy. Let’s face it, Coldplay is an amazing team producing magnificent music.

So, it’s logical that leadership is also about building a team.

But how do you make that team cohesive?

Here a re a few simple tips on making sure your group becomes a COHESIVE TEAM:

Be close to the members of your team

  • Take the time to get to each member on a personal level; know them very well
  • Be a listener and ask lots of questions
  • Encourage innovation and some individuality
  • Celebrate with them
  • Recognise their personal and professional success and achievements
  • Be hands alongside your team members on when you need to be

Get the balance right

  • Encourage everyone in your team to have a great life balance (I dislike the term work-life balance…) and make sure you do to
  • Recognise and encourage extra-curricular activities for everyone
  • Make sure everyone learns from what they do outside work, including you

Be open, honest and transparent

  • People sense BS when they hear it and see it. In Australia and New Zealand in particular, people are cynical and see through cheap talk very quickly
  • So, be upfront and direct
  • Give people the news, good or bad, quickly
  • And expect that in return
  • Make sure you take bad news well

Adopt a curious mindset

  • Constantly seek new ways and experiences
  • Keep in touch with changing demographics
  • Stay up to date with technology
  • Understand what’s happening in other industries and business
  • Listen to your people with an open mind, and always hear them out
  • Be supportive, and do not be overly critical

Be passionate and consistent about the Purpose

  • To create followship, people need to know where you are taking them and feel confident you are passionate about getting them there
  • And if you say something, mean it.
  • And if you commit to do something, do it.

Begin with the end in mind, and curate

  • Stay the course on your plans
  • Sure, curate along the way to adapt and improve
  • But, only change radically when you have to, and when you do change, change fast and very effectively
  • Confidence in the plan is important to followship

Expect more of everyone’s leadership

  • And make sure everyone knows what that means, and what is expected of them
  • Remember, everyone needs some ground rules
  • But focus on what’s important, not everything
  • And here’s a novel idea, if you add a new focus area, take one away
  • Delegate authority with accountability and responsibility

Synergy doesn’t come from individuals. It comes from teams.

So to deliver the slingshot effect of synergy, build cohesive teams!

Innovate your brand!

One of my Rules of Transformational Leadership is that “Your Reputation is Everything, So Protect it!”

Another of my rules is “Innovate Incessantly”

Now, what happens if the two don’t align?

What happens if your brand isn’t one that is associated with innovation?

Houston, we have a problem!
Because our brand isn’t what we think it is; it’s what other people think.

Ok, so when I read this article on the weekend, I found a solution.

Here’s the ARTICLE

And here’s what it says (I’ve adapted it slightly but the core principles are spot on):

  1. Associate yourself with the concept of innovation – read extensively, write a blog, send emails to lots of smart people every week. Day to day incidents will bring the anecdotes to life and you will start BEcoming the innovator.
  2. Take the time to practice innovative thinking – set aside some time each week – it’s a skill, and it is something you get better at with time. And spend time innovating with other people – shared experience and shared learning.
  3. Think about past life experiences and learn from them – what would you do differently next time? Why didn’t it work? What did you learn? You innovated and can do it again!
  4. Learn how successful innovators execute. Ideas need execution and execution is critical. Research it; ask questions; be intensely curious.
  5. So are people critical. Hang around with smart people who execute brilliantly. Engage them early.
  6. Look the part. Ok, seems glib, but people do judge a book by its cover. The book still needs to be a good read but looking the part helps.

Travel well!

Worry is interest paid on a problem before it falls due!

Unless you have zero EQ, it’s very normal to occasionally experience the impostor syndrome.

You know what I mean – that gut wrenching feeling (particularly in a public speaking environment) where you are waiting for someone to call out that you are a fraud, you don’t know what you are talking about, that everything you are saying is wrong.

Now, like most things we worry about, it never happens.

And as professionals, we are a lot better and stronger than we think.

Experience provides so many benefits – once something is in your database of experience, you become more resilient, more comfortable.

We are able to adapt to differing situations more readily and play different roles in different circumstances.

We are able to take on challenges more confidently.

We have greater access to skills and resources.

Don’t get me wrong – never be complacent.

By all means plan and prepare. Do that really well.

But don’t be consumed by self-doubt and fear – worry is genuinely interest paid on a problem before it falls due.

Observations on Transformational Leadership

I read this fascinating article on the weekend in the HBR.

You can read it HERE

I have my 10 rules of Transformational Leadership, so it was interesting to get a observational perspective from an analysis of 2017’s ranked top transformational leaders.

The analysis focused on the leader’s ability to re-position their organisations. Interesting, as Transformation is all about the re-positioning when it’s all said and done.

So, rather than just looking at simply revenue or a subjective measure like “innovativeness”, the assessment looked at:

  • New Growth generated – that is new products, services, and business models
  • Core Re-positioning – the adaption of a legacy model to change and disrupt, and
  • Financial Performance against best in class benchmarks.

Good stuff!

The summary of the findings is:

  1. Transformational leaders tend to be Insider Outsiders – they don’t come from the traditional core of the business, rather from an emerging business within the organisation or from an adjacent business. This helped drive transformation with an understanding of how to do so in the organisation.
  2. They strategically pursue TWO separate journeys – they look to re-position the core business whilst at the same time actively investing in new growth businesses. Just changing the core doesn’t drive real transformation and, arguably, doesn’t reflect a real journey to change (think Apple with the re-invigoration of the Mac coupled with the new iPhone).
  3. They use culture change to drive engagement – they move from the traditional risk-averse (we have to protect the core) approach to one where they are nimble and fast and able to produce small increments all the time – this changes the risk appetite in the business and therefore its culture.
  4. They communicate a powerful narrative about the future – they become the story-teller-in-chief and they tell different aspects of the story to different stakeholders to make it relevant to them. Consistently.
  5. They develop a roadmap before disruption takes hold – transformation can take a long time, so that means getting started fast is important, sometimes without a really clear vision of the end state. Developing the milestones and roadmap is therefore important but so is ensuring that it is adaptable as it will evolve as lessons, technology, and other things change.

Fascinating perspective – not theory but observations.

Who can help you be the best you can be?

I’ve been doing some facilitation work recently.

I love facilitating!!!

It doesn’t matter whether it’s running strategy workshops, developing culture in leadership sessions, or hard-nosed operational reviews. I love them all and have been doing them all of late.

Eclectic…

I love the energy, the theatrics, the challenging, and the satisfaction I get from seeing teams, and people have “aha moments“. You know the ones, where things come together and there is a major movement forward and there is some group learning and togetherness.

I was working with one great team in a beautiful town south of Sydney last week. It was 4pm on a Friday afternoon. It had been a long, but VERY, productive day. Really top notch day in fact.

But 4pm on a Friday? That’s beer o’clock time, right?

Well two awesome things happened.

Firstly, I noticed the energy in the room. It was just brilliant. These people were engaged, they were talking, they were positive. They were challenged with a big transformation and they were standing up as transformational leaders. Now, apart from being my favourite catch cry (Transformation, Innovation, and Growth is what my acronym TIG stands for, after all!!), it was real! And these wonderful people were expecting less of other people and accepting the baton of responsibility to expect more of themselves as leaders of a transformation.

My drive back to Sydney was traffic-infested. But I didn’t notice because of the energy these people created. It’s a wonderful experience driven by a massive desire to see people realise their potential. No drugs involved whatsoever..as an aside, I wish some sporting people would lesson their reliance on artificial stimulants….

Secondly, there was something that happened at 4pm as well. There was great energy but there was also a great question. You see I’ve always believed that the best way to learn is to teach. It’s actually why I love facilitating because I learn so much every time I lead a session. But someone asked about mentoring. Who should they choose? What will they learn? etc etc

Mentoring is an awesome thing to do. Because you learn so much.

But here’s the drum. Don’t mentor and lecture. Mentor and ASK QUESTIONS!

A coach gives you direction, technique, even solutions. and they are important in many ways. If you have a deficiency in an area, need some skills enhancement, want some more tools and techniques.

But a mentor facilitates you to find a self-discovered solution.

But as importantly, being a mentor is wonderful. Because as a mentor you learn. You learn to ask the insightful question. You learn to listen. You learn perspectives. It’s very unselfish learning.

If you want a mentor, perhaps have a few. Get some varied and trusted people together to ask you lots of questions and guide you to find solutions.

And as a mentor, learn to ask the insightful question. Learn the art of story telling. And learn the art of listening.

Because sometimes helping others is a step to realising your potential…

Your reputation isn’t what you think it is

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All organisations and individuals have a brand.

In fact, your brand and reputation are probably your most important assets.

But it’s not about what you think your brand is

Reputation is how others see you and talk about ‘you’.

The trick is to master the ability to manage the perception by delivering substance and delivering on your ‘promise’.

Ok, so your reputation is everything.

So what are some of the tools you can use to develop your brand?

Here are some ideas.

Soar with your strengths

What was most successful project or sale you ever undertook?

What was the most important team role you ever fulfilled?

What is you “go to” skill when confronting challenges?

What are the strengths that others acknowledge in you?

Do other people acknowledge your strengths are the ones you think they are?

Know your top 5 signature strengths REALLY well and play to them.

And whilst we all have weaknesses, our own kryptonite, acknowledge you can’t eliminate them. In fact, as experts in Positive Psychology will attest, effort put into improving your strengths has a far better ROI than effort put into trying to eliminating weaknesses.

Mitigate the impact of your weaknesses, sure, but focus on your strengths as you will SOAR with them.

BECAUSE…your brand is driven by your strengths.

Tap into your values

What are the things that make you tick, really tick?

What is your personal compass that provides direction to the choices you make?

It’s really important that you pursue activities and interests aligned with your values.

If you’re not aligned, then you will have emotional tension, use more energy, and have more conflict internally and with others.

Your values are hard to define until they are violated.

And remember, they come from your family and upbringing, not slogans on walls or in strategic plans.

BECAUSE…your brand is defined by your values

Pursue your passions with passion!

Our passions fuel our behaviour.

They enable us to really effectively engage and inspire other people.

They absolutely re-energize you when another task or experience drains you.

But importantly, they are actually enabled by your subconscious.

It’s important to provide a productive outlet for excess energy or stress to improve your mental, emotional and physical health.

BECAUSE…your brand story is enhanced by your passions

Know your purpose!

Authenticity must be at the core of our purpose. You can only “fake it” for so long, right?

In pursuing your purpose, you can be your best self, and use your strengths in a positive way.

Remember, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” (Lao Tzu)

Your purpose is your big picture, your internal vision of what you would like to achieve.

AND…taking “on-purpose” action defines your brand.

So, there are some tools to help define your brand.

Success depends on leadership and whether people choose to stay and trust their leaders.
Why will people follow you?