Most people will agree that good leadership fuels performance. But what is good leadership? Some believe leading with a carrot brings out the best in people, whilst others believe people need strict boundaries to perform at their best.
The truth is that good leadership looks different in different contexts. It’s subjective; varying from company to company, team to team, project to project.
This is where leadership models come in; they can help assess a leader against the context of their environment. A good leader in one business might not necessarily be as successful in another.
At NSCG, our leadership framework looks at six key competencies: Leads others, understands self, delivers results, leads inclusively, thinks strategically and collaborates with impact. It’s been created, tried and tested by our experts who have decades of experience helping organisations accelerate performance. Grounded in globally recognised frameworks, our model evolves traditional theory to bring in line with the context of leading in the present day.
This series lifts the lid on these competencies, sharing insights from some of our experts. Here Rianne Silvey shares just what it takes to excel at the competency of ‘leading others’…
First, let’s take a look at what it means to ‘lead others’. At NSCG we define this as the ability to energise others around a compelling vision with a clear purpose to actively pursue a goal. Leading others is a simple must-have for high-level leaders.
Taking a closer look, we have three traits that paint the picture of this competency: Creates Engagement, Managing Performance and Empowering Others. Here’s an overview of each and some practical tips if you’re looking to improve in any areas.
Times are changing as we’re seeing a move away from traditional leadership styles. Instead, there’s been a shift towards servant leadership. People are looking for those who are authentic – those who trust their employees and lead with transparency and legitimacy.
You also need to assess if your excitement level for the business/goals/targets that you’re setting is at the level required to drive the team. From here you can give to the team clarity on their purpose and goals from a position of strength that helps bond the team. Remember change is not purely objective it needs be emotionally considered too.
Tips to remember:
- When looking to create an engaging team make sure everyone’s role within the process is crystal clear – otherwise doubt can breed underlying issues
- Be clear in all actions as ‘bad behaviour’ is usually driven by a lack of clarity from the top.
When you’re managing the performance of your team, you need to be looking to see if you are providing everyone with the appropriate support. What this means is that you’re tailoring your support to fit individual needs, requirements and knowledge.
One way in which you can create a high-performing team is autonomy. Our research has shown that a threat to autonomy is actually the biggest source of stress for workers. Yes, there needs to be clarity around targets and KPIs however you need to have the confidence in your team to let them work in a manner that they see fit and that’s not only in relation to processes but also where. In a post-pandemic world, the discussion of where one is most productive has been a constant – taking time to find out the needs of your team is crucial, a key word that comes up is balance. And this is where being an engaged leader comes in – you need to be able to find what works individually for each employee. Everyone will have differing skill and knowledge levels as well as external personal matters that may impact their work.
Tips to remember:
- Taking away or being a threat to someone’s autonomy can and will lead to presenteeism within the team – which can foster discontent and impact your goal of creating a cohesive team.
- Have regular check-ins. This not only allows you to gauge how the project is going and how you can support them, but it also lets them know that you are available for support when they need it.
If you want to achieve genuine empowerment, it demands involved, service-oriented, and inspiring leadership with coaching and mentoring elements. This approach entails frequent and highly engaged interactions.
There have been increased discussions in recent years among businesses and management surrounding the need to have better coaching skills. Recently Google’s manager research project — Oxygen — found that one of the top behaviours of a good manager is to have the ability to coach. People have a strong desire to improve and upskill when they are in their positions and a strong leader who recognises that can empower their employees to be their best selves at work – especially with numbers from Gartner indicating that employees who report to managers who coach effectively are 40% more engaged, exhibit 38% more discretionary effort and are 20% more likely to stay at their organisations.
One of the other pitfalls of leaders is that they’re not actually very good at giving feedback. No one is saying it’s easy to give feedback – 63% of managers have actually stated that they lack the courage to have difficult feedback discussions. And yet if you want to succeed as a leader who builds a successful, cohesive and inclusive team then having those difficult conversations is what is needed to course correct.
Tips to remember:
- Check-in regularly. Research has shown that managers need to check in on average at least every 11 days. Put that face time in with your team be it virtually or in person.
- It may sound cliched, but constant and clear communication is key with clarity. Make sure your team know what they are working on and why but also let them know that you are there to support them in their development and ready to have the difficult conversations if needs be.