Develop awareness of your team dynamic
There is no one formula for being a successful leader. However, a leader must have the ability to develop an awareness of their team dynamic. Many would argue that great leadership is situational. What is seen as great leadership traits for one situation, may not be so great for another. This is very true where you have an immature team which isn’t quite yet developed. In the initial stages, a leader may need to be more directional than they would otherwise be. Leading teams with different maturity levels are explored in the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model. As a leader, you must be able to develop awareness of where your team is in terms of situation and maturity.
Develop awareness of your decision-making options
We all make decisions from a different standpoint. A value-based leadership style can seem a significant factor. The leader demonstrates their values consistently to employees and customers who they are dealing with. Many would agree openness, honesty, humility and inclusivity are universal values. They are not always a priority for businesses. A commercially savvy entrepreneur who cuts corners and makes hard decisions easily can be applauded by some and condemned by others.
It is one thing making a decision to axe the jobs of 100 people, and having an attitude of “well that’s just business”. It is miles away from the leader who agonises over the need to make such a decision. Conscious and aware of the impact it is going to have on the livelihood of all of those people.
That’s not to say that a self-aware, empathetic leader conscious of the impact on their people doesn’t make hard-headed decisions. But they do so with care, kindness and understanding. They will have no doubt that such a decision is a last but necessary resort. Leaders who develop awareness will support, listen to and respect the fears and anxieties of the people affected. Equally, people who prefer making decisions on situations and commercial factors will often turn their attention to how their decisions will impact people. It is when a leader has developed an awareness of the options open to them that difficult decisions incorporate both considerations.
Learning from mistakes
In my experience, leaders who are willing to continually learn and develop awareness may not be perfect, or paragons of virtue. What they do though is different from leaders who don’t develop awareness, is that they learn from their mistakes. When the same or a similar situation occurs then they choose something different. They take time out to evaluate how they are doing, and how they impact others. Most importantly they are able to observe themselves objectively in order to self-appraise.
Leaders who develop awareness
Leaders who develop awareness typically display the following behaviours. They willingly:
- Take feedback from their people and find out what is going wrong as well as what is going right.
- Are prepared to learn from others and they admire qualities about other people who can teach them something.
- Question their own mindsets, and are always open to learning how to be more authentically positive and to achieve great outcomes for themselves and others.
- Understand their own power to affect the intentions, mindsets and beliefs of others and they use that power wisely and with integrity.
- Is always considering diversity and how they can create and harness the gift of a diverse and culturally different team.
- Understand that leading a team is not a single-minded activity, but one where they must be open to understanding others, so as to get them onboard and engaged in what they are trying to achieve.
- Work out exactly who they want to be working with them and for them. They have a good insight into themselves and how they tick and, therefore, have the same understanding of others
- Commit to the continuous development of their business and people. They understand that life is a learning experience, and it’s not just about skills and knowledge, but also about self- understanding. Not just for themselves, but for others too.
We all have our blind spots, I would challenge anyone who believes they haven’t. Although making the decision to lead a life of awareness can be a challenging one, it is also can be extremely revealing and rewarding.