Leadership is something that I have pondered over the years and questioned whether I have the right style or not. Am I too hard; too soft; too understanding; not understanding enough? Are they my friends? How do I manage that? I also discovered that you need to be true to who you are as a person and not to replicate someone else’s style. Often when you are in a leadership position you have no one to discuss your own challenges with and consider what you need to do to develop as a leader as you are too busy making sure your leadership team and the people that work for you are being developed to be the best they can be.
Horses for courses
There are different types of leaders for different types of situations. When all is going well and the wind is in your sail, some leaders bloom and are at their best. But when heavy seas hit and you need to be in survival mode; sometimes these leaders are not capable of getting the ship into calmer seas. Good leaders can run a company in good times but great leaders are the ones who can turn the ship around and keep it afloat, learn from the issues and create a business that is strong enough to withstand any attack from any angle. Often you do not know which one you are until you are in the situation where you are tested.
What works for me
To really be sure of how I lead, you may need to talk to the people who I have lead in the past but I believe I make people accountable and demand excellence. I am big on systems, Work in Progress reports and people committing to set deadlines. I have found this is the quickest way of finding out if you have the right person for the role. The most dangerous people are smart and can talk the talk, often when you confront these types, you leave feeling that all is under control, despite the evidence to say it is not. Having strong systems in place means that there is no talking your way out of situations. Either you achieved the goal at the due date or you did not. The other mistake people make is wanting to be liked and wanting everyone to be your friend. You can like your employees but they can never be your friend. That also means that when you do socialise with them, you never drink too much and never, ever have an intimate relationship with an employee because you will first of all start to lose the respect of your team and second; it will cloud your decision-making process.
The ultimate goal
At the end of the day, our role as leaders is to achieve the goal of the business, board and shareholders and we need to do whatever we can to deliver this. The main way is to lead with respect, ensuring that the people who follow you are inspired to achieve great things. The other thing that can be achieved on the journey is to have fun and enjoy what you do, as you will spend more time at work than at any other activity in your life. Making sure you get the right type of people who will go above and beyond for you is the first start. With the right people, the rest is easy – or at the very least, not as hard.