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 ‘understanding self’…
This skill centres around the ability to look inward. It’s about having difficult conversations with yourself to understand what you’re good at and what needs a little brushing up. We define the competency as the capacity to look inward and understand one’s own thoughts, feelings, behaviours, strengths and weaknesses.
We can’t change other people, but we can know ourselves and change our ways of working to elicit a different response from others and build strong working relationships. Self-awareness is crucial in managing relationships better as well as being the foundation of effective self-management. Self management is both managing down (controlling) the aspects of ourselves that are less helpful and drawing on the power of our strengths. We’ve broken down this competency into three traits: resilient, manages self and adaptable.
As a leader, being resilient sets the tone for the entire team, creating a positive and determined energy that encourages everyone to follow through on their commitments. However, it’s equally important to understand that being a strong leader doesn’t mean suppressing all emotions. In fact, authentic leaders are emotionally in tune and know when to show a softer side. This emotional intelligence allows you to connect with your team on a deeper level and make them feel secure, fostering a sense of trust and camaraderie.
It’s important to maintain a level of professionalism – don’t let setbacks derail you. Your team looks to you for guidance and stability. Staying composed under pressure is one of the hallmarks of effective leadership, as it demonstrates your ability to handle challenges and keep the team on track towards success. Great leaders will find the lesson in failure and will ensure that they personally learn and that learnings are passed on and embedded in future approaches. learn and grow from it.
Managing self begins with understanding how and why you behave the way you do. Take a moment to consider what triggers your emotions and reactions.
These triggers often tie back to your unique personality traits, those little quirks that can set you off or stir intense reactions within you. The things that either energise you or that you avoid. It’s also about understanding the knock-on impact your behaviour has on others.
In today’s world, leadership has become more visible than ever before. The pervasive “always-on” way of living and working, means that your actions and behaviours are even more under scrutiny than ever, more easily shared and communicated. By being self-aware and learning to navigate your reactions, you not only set a valuable example for your team but also build trust and credibility.
Managing this can be challenging though. An easy exercise I would encourage leaders to do is reflect on past experiences to understand behaviours. Think about the last time you think you let your emotions get the better of you and consider what caused you to feel that emotion and why. Becoming aware of this is the first step in learning to manage it.
Change is an inevitability in business. And when we’re faced with change, we can learn from neuroscience. When change looms, we may experience negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, frustration, triggering a chemical response in us and a shift from rational thinking to a more emotional state. So, one of the best qualities you can possess as a leader is the ability to adapt. It’s not just about accepting change, but also championing it as an opportunity for growth and improvement and spending as much time on the rational explanations and logic as you do on the emotional side of change; listening, explaining, supporting your teams.
To guide your team through transition, be the one who steps out of their comfort zone first. If you’re able to demonstrate adaptability and reframe change as something that can be manageable and beneficial, your team will be more inclined to lean into this.