Leadership is taking people towards a better future. This means that the leaders see a better future, which implies vision, the ability to establish a picture in the mind of that which may not presently be a reality in ourselves, teams and the organisation.
We always start with self leadership – a creative gift we all possess and can develop – imagination and of course innovation. The old saying ‘If you do what you have always done you will get what you’ve always got’ – nothing changes. So leadership is more about the future, leaders are not happy just because things are going well - they see how much better things can be, personally and with the organisation.
This is the first and most important learning for leaders, understanding that vision, innovation and new learning is about culture and strategy. We talk about strategic planning, but it’s really strategic thinking. The belief that this is the domain of the few at the top must be vigorously challenged – it is the domain at the top, the middle and the bottom.
Leadership is coaching people to ‘think’ strategically. What does that mean? It means being pro-active and not reactive, changing the belief that we need a crisis before we change. This is the thinking that we develop, teach, encourage, support and coach to our direct reports and to our whole team.
Of course this is changing our mindset and creating some head space for moving the inside-outside vision of people and culture to an imperative vision activity on the same level as the operations and strategy the outside-inside vision.
Yes, strategic and pro-active thinking is important, but it is not urgent, so it’s not run as a process. We don’t make time to be quiet, still or reflective, so we can actually hear. You see it’s only when it is quiet and still that we really hear, like walking in the bush or sitting by the river. Computers, TV, talking, meeting after meeting , talking too much , blackberries, iPhones, iPads etc, we have become addicted to urgency, adrenaline and stimulation- being human being not a human doing. Strategy requires undivided attention and quiet, it takes time; you can’t rush it, yes you may need to close the door or find some space to think, to just be.
Transforming performance to deliver strategy is the role of the leader. The people and culture transformation must be run as a process. We must see its importance over the urgent if we want to really be strategic. The coaching process enables the leader to tap into what can’t be seen on the surface. Because you only see behaviours and results, you miss a big chunk of the iceberg, the thoughts that dictate their behaviours and results are part of the unconscious. We must tap into this real cause of performance – thinking and feeling to coach and inspire change as an inside-outside job. Coaching is the strategy and the tool you can use to bring your people along into your vision for the future and create a pro active, positive, problem-solving atmosphere to surround people, teams and organisations. Changing culture is the great unseen inside game and until you realize it is the game than the outside operations will not be as effective in implementing strategy.
So your styles of leadership both visionary and coaching are your two most significant styles of leadership and the rest are about emotional intelligence. That always comes back to the single most important aspect of leadership – the ability to manage your self - your responses, your energy, your resonance and that’s also pro-active and strategic, and very importantly your routine, to put you in the best state to perform.
Leadership requires high energy and that requires recovery – so don’t forget if you manage yourself, you will have more energy, if you create good routines you will sleep better and function with more clarity and engage more positively. Know that it is important to be persistent with your vision and goals, yet still be able to enjoy your current reality while pursuing your future vision and goals, and know that there is a season for sewing and a season for reaping and you can't do both in the same season.
Author: Steve Griffith
FOUNDER & CEO OF GRIFFITH CONSULTING GROUP