In my work as a leadership consultant I occasionally work with senior executives who’ve stalled just below board level – or sometimes just short of the CEO’s hot seat. This isn’t normally because they’re lacking in intelligence, experience or drive. It’s often because they’ve failed to develop the values required of a true leader.
They need to unlearn some of the “me-centred” and competitive behaviours that, paradoxically, have propelled them up the ranks in the first place. As former General Electric CEO Jack Welch said: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Here are five workplace habits you might need to become aware of to take the next step in your leadership journey:
1. Always Being The Star
You are watching a movie of your own life. Part of developing your leadership ability is to realise a successful management meeting is one in which others are allowed to star, as well as you. Building the capabilities and confidence of those reporting into you is the hallmark of a good leader. When you become an orchestra conductor you stop playing the notes. When you become the team coach you stop kicking the ball. Instead, you create a situation where people play harmoniously, and in synch, based on your lead.
2. Telling, Not Asking
The empowerment of others starts with active listening. The ability to patiently use open questions (questions that elicit explanation rather than “yes” or “no”), to help people to find the answer for themselves, has a transformational impact.
3. Playing Judge and Jury
You learn an enormous amount in your career. You often know, or think you know, the answer to most of the questions that crop up. But, paradoxically good leaders often display notable humility. They’re prepared to hear people out before they pass judgement or offer their own opinion.
4. Ducking Responsibility
A leader doesn’t make excuses for poor behaviour by trotting out the lame excuse “that’s just me!” They realise leadership is about making conscious choices about how you respond to what work throws at you. Let’s face it. There’ll always be cock ups and irritating clients or colleagues. Leadership starts with the conscious choice of how you proactively respond to people and events. Leaders take full responsibility for their words and deeds.
5. Forgetting to Say Sorry
This may sound like leadership is some unattainable nirvana for people with super-human self control. Untrue. Most people like leaders to be as flawed as the rest of us. The important thing is this. If you’ve displayed some of the anti-leadership behaviours above, apologise immediately. Being a leader doesn’t mean you never say sorry.
Copyright © 2012 Greg Orme All Rights Reserved