Best ways to be an effective leader

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Leadership is not just about the one leader at the top, but about the followers too… Here are some tips from business leaders:

Focus on character over reputation

Your reputation will vary.  It’s your character that counts and it’s what you can control.  Wooden said, “If you make the effort to do the best of which you’re capable, trying to improve the situation that exists for you, I think that’s success and I don’t think others can judge that, and I think that’s like character and reputation.  Your reputation is what you are perceived to be, and your character is what you actually are, and I think the character is much more important than what you are perceived to be.”

Deeply understand you environment.

Leadership doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It requires foresight, developing and maintaining relationship, must be responsive to changes in the marketplace and much much more. Leadership requires leaders to understand what happening now and what is likely to happen in the future. To be effective, you need to be able to meet the complex demands of your organisation today, as well as prepare it for the complex problems it faces tomorrow. To achieve this you require a deep understanding of your environment (the marketplace and your organisation) and where they are heading. It’s no small task.

Invest in yourself.

Investing in yourself is essential for effective leadership. Investing in your own knowledge, ability, competencies and experiences. Leaders need to lead from a solid foundation from which they influence others. You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room, but you do know how to use that person – That’s a leadership lesson I’ve learnt over the past 14 years of working with leaders.

Invest in your team.

Leaders develop their followers. Investing in your followers has countless benefits for them, yourself and the organisation. It motivates and inspire followers whilst it contributing to organisational capability.

Invest in your organisation.

Whatever way you can. Invest in its infrastructure, invest in its people, invest in its processes, invest in its future. Be a leader who builds!

Be innovative.

Find new ways of doing business. Zoltan – said it – don’t be a sheep. The environment is changing and with it your organisation needs to change. Being innovative, or get people to be innovative for you, is the only solution to have your organisation thrive.

Little things make big things happen

Coach Wooden was a proponent of the principle that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. His practices were ferociously intense. There wasn’t any slack in practice where you could hang out and shoot the breeze. He found time at the beginning when players were coming onto the court to take a moment, to pull someone aside as he was ambling over to the practice and ask about how things were going.

Patience is a part of progress

Success comes slowly. Expect change to happen slowly and to have patience along the way. Wooden said, “Whatever you’re doing, you must have patience” and “there is no progress without change, so you must have patience.”

Lead by example

Wooden said that way back, during his early years of teaching, a specific saying made a great impression on him – “No written word, no spoken plea, can teach our youth what they should be, nor all the books on all the shelves, it’s what the teachers are themselves.”

Failure is not fatal

Keep going. Don’t let setbacks stop you. Carry your lessons forward, and change your approach. Wooden said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” Don’t fear change … it is a fact of life.

It’s the journey

It’s the getting there that’s fun. Wooden said, “Cervantes said, ‘The journey is better than the end.’ And I like that. I think that is — it’s getting there. Sometimes when you get there, there’s almost a letdown, but it’s the getting there that’s fun.” Wooden would say, ““I liked our practices to be the journey, and the game would be the end … the end result.”

Team leadership is its own task.

Leadership in teams covers three core responsibilities: 1) delivering team objectives, 2) building a cohesive and effective team; 3) managing and developing individual team member performance. The three are separate but related. As a team leader you need to juggle these three balls, and not drop any one of them.

Team leaders go first and last.

As team leader you are the architect of the team. You start with primary responsibility for all tasks of building and managing your team to deliver results. As well as going first you also remain fully, finally accountable for whether your team wins or loses. The buck stops with you.

Leaders flex their leadership style according to circumstances.

Rather than having one preferred or dominant style, you need to be able to shift the way you lead between the four core styles of leadership to suit the current situation and the individuals on your team: Controlling, Coaching, Consulting and Collaborating.

Control.

At the beginning of a team’s life or your tenure as the team leader, when you do not yet have the insight into the team’s capabilities, the right approach is to exert authority and control. It is far easier to start tight and loosen control as needed.

Coach.

Where team members are more skilled, shift to guiding the team, giving critical advice at key moments. While coaching your whole team, remember you are first and foremost coaching people. Tailor your approach to each individual and their particular needs; find an approach that works for them.

Consult.

Have the confidence to recognize when and where you might not have the right answer. If you believe your team may know best, invite discussion and ask the right questions. You are looking to support your team and encourage them to take greater responsibility for future action.

Collaborate.

When the team is performing effectively, effective team leaders know when to get out of the way and hand over the remote control to the team. In this style of leadership, you will increasingly be collaborating as a first amongst equals in a web of mutual accountability.

Create a team of leaders. Developing leaders across the team is developing a better team. The strongest teams are those in which more members inspire, support, challenge and hold each other accountable. Yet even in teams full of capable leaders you remain ultimately accountable. A leader’s work is never done.

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