I am a firm believer that great leaders do not come out of any particular personality mould. In executive coaching I have worked with, outstanding leaders all of whom had different personalities. Contrary to what some believe about leadership they were not all lively extroverts who had magnetic and charismatic personalities.
The mark of great leaders is that they do certain things very well and consistently. It doesn’t matter whether this is in the sales or the finance function – the same things are required in both. In executive coaching I find that sometimes people panic when they are given their first real leadership role. This is often because they have a model leader in their mind and they worry that they will not be able to live up to that image. As we go through our executive coaching they realise they too can be a great leader if they can, in their own way, do the things described in here.
By following these 5 principles you can confidently call yourself an excellent leader
- Provide a compelling vision; make sure that everyone that is a member of your team knows what it is you want to achieve over the next 3 years. What will it look like and why is it important to get there. Be as detailed about your vision as you can be. A clear vision gives people an overall sense of purpose that makes sense of the effort and energy that goes into the day to day and week to week challenges of their jobs. As one of his executive coaching goals the owner of a group of jewellers gave his vision as – In 5 years time we will have double the number of our current stores in affluent areas of big city centres. We will be known for our range of high quality watches and outstanding levels of customer service. As the leader you may not have the answer to the vision so two tips that the best use in creating their vision. Involve the people that work with you in designing the future. This will get them involved and engaged with it. Use the overall strategy for the organisation as the context and make sure your vision fits into it.
- Give Clear Annual Objectives; ensure that everyone that works for you has clear and quantifiable objectives for the year. This means they know what a good year’s performance will look like. It empowers them to go out and do a great job. It means they have a way of measuring their success. They will know how their performance will be judged by their manager at the end of the year. This all sounds pretty obvious, but you would be amazed at how many people, that I work with in executive coaching, who are not clear about how their performance will be judged, or what they have to achieve over a year. This becomes demoralising and reduces motivation.
- Be a Great Leader of Individuals; if your team members know what their objectives are for the year you really have one role – to support them in achieving them. The best way of doing this is to ensure every member of your team has a one to one review around once per financial period. This provides a structure for you and team members to know that there is some time set aside (1-2 hours) regularly to discuss progress and issues. Make sure you let your team member input agenda items for the review – it’s their meeting as much as yours. It is here you ask about progress on key priorities and objectives. Where there are problems ask the team member what ideas they have for solving them. Don’t provide all the answers yourself, or how will the team member ever develop their own career. You need to be prepared to look at the resources required to overcome an issue, as well as intervene to break down barriers to progress which cannot be resolved by your team member.
- Be a Great Leader of Teams; your role is to make sure your team has a clear common purpose and that you use the skills and talents of the individual members for the good of all. You should use your team meetings to communicate what’s going on in the organisation, to set policies and agree initiatives. If you have several teams make sure you get the whole group together at least once a year to review achievements and plans for the coming 12 months.
- Be a Motivator; you are the person that sets the climate and environment within which your team members work. There are many aspects of this such as the culture you create, but perhaps the most important thing is that every member of your team is motivated. Unfortunately the same thing does not motivate everyone to the same extent. So for some public recognition of their achievements is important, for others money is a great incentive, however for some it may be valuable to them to be given a day off with their family, or perhaps a an educational programme. The things you recognise do a lot to set the climate in which people work. So if you only reward the achievement of for example profit, you may find people start to reduce costs inappropriately. The single most important thing you can do is to recognise when someone has achieved something important. This should be a personal thank you from you as leader.
As a Coach I find that when working on leadership topics in executive coaching any difficulties tend to relate to one of the 5 principles not being followed, or because it is not being done particularly well. From my experience of executive coaching the great news is that once you know which principle is causing the problem it is normally quite easy to put in place actions to put things on the right track. By following these principles I have seen executive coaching clients significantly improve 360 feedback ratings and staff attitude survey scores.
Key words; leadership, Executive Coaching, Executive Coach, Executive Coaching services, Executive Coaching provider, Executive Coaching company
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