Effective leaders must be involved in aligning the beliefs and values of their employees with the overall goals and vision of the organisation. Leaders must find a way to inspire their teams and create a team effort built on mutual respect. If you are a leader then putting aside your ego is an essential requisite for a true team effort. Coaches and mentors can often support leaders to get the results they need.
Putting aside your ego
Gone are the days when leaders led from the top to enhance their leadership ego, The old days of command and control and being the oracle or fount of all knowledge is gone. In today’s world, leaders understand it is the combined effort of all that create really great results. This involves an environment where inspiration, trust and responsibility are shared across teams and everyone contributes.
To achieve this culture, leaders need to listen at a deeper level and nurture the skills and expertise of their team. A crucial element of putting aside your ego when leading is to understand different learning styles and preferred ways of tackling tasks and projects. While each team member should be responsible for achieving results, the way they get there may be very different to the way you want it done. Their way of ‘being’ in the world may differ and may in fact be more effective than yours.
A collective effort
To illustrate the above I can share an experience that taught me a great deal about how to lose the leadership ego.
Some years ago, I was the owner/director of a medium-sized language school in Brighton. I had run this school for twelve years and had been quite successful. I led a team of five full time teaching staff and 4 part-time admin and marketing staff. One of my team was a very astute and capable woman who did things entirely differently from me. In fact, her style was often more effective than mine in the role she held as Director of Studies. I found myself thinking that I knew best and that this was, after all, my own school. How wrong I was.
I had engaged a coach. It was through a challenge from my coach I could see my ego was definitely in charge. I engaged my Director of Studies in a one to one discussion and really listened. I discovered not only was she highly effective, she also had other ideas that contributed a great deal to the business. In fact, she subsequently became so valuable I felt able to hand over when I took a holiday and left the school in her capable hands.
If we allow our egos to get in the way of effective leadership, then we cannot expect to grow others and tap into their knowledge and expertise. Learning about leadership is all very well but in order to be a true leader, we need to understand and demonstrate those behaviours. This is where I believe coaching plays such a valuable part in enhancing leadership behaviours because often with solo introspection it’s difficult to identify when the ego is in fact in charge.
Part of the leadership role is also being able to self-manage so you are flexible, optimistic and reliable. These are qualities that when nurtured make an effective leader approachable, motivational and highly regarded.
A high level of social awareness is essential. This involves being able to put yourself in others’ shoes and identifying their needs. It’s important to understand the employee’s background and circumstances. As a leader, you need to adapt your behaviours to allow employees to air their views. They need to be able to take ownership and responsibility for tasks and solutions. Seeing the potential and collaborating with them as equals in developing this ability to self-manage is crucial. In doing so you will be better able to focus on your own role and not be tempted to micromanage. Your staff will learn and grow under your guidance as a role model and develop their own emotional intelligence creating a strong team and increased social awareness.
Time to Think
In the fast-paced technological world of today, we do not listen or take the time to think things through. In her wonderful book “Time to Think” Nancy Kline states. “The quality of our listening will determine the quality of their thinking.” Listening to others and really hearing what they say with no judgement or assumptions is a great skill. Listening well can enable others to reach a clarity of thought that can really enhance their motivation and engagement.
Conversations, particularly one to one, are at their most powerful when there is mutual respect. Where they invite both parties to challenge their own assumptions. The most exciting conversations are on an edge. When disagreements and ideas are discussed honestly and openly. When leaders work on the edge of the unknown, others are drawn in, and they are more likely to find it authentic.
So how do leaders create real, authentic conversations that are assumption-free and invite edgy dialogue? In short, how do they begin losing the leadership ego?
Leaders create ego-free, authentic conversations by being open and receptive. By listening for what is important to their teams. Make sure to tease out ideas and suggestions. This then enables each individual to grow and increases confidence. When employees are motivated, confident and fully engaged they make better decisions. This leads to greater productivity and bottom-line results.
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Experienced Professional ICF Executive Coach & CSA Dip Supervisor
Specialising in Cross-Cultural Understanding, Advanced Communication and Working with International teams
‘Coaching Skills for Leaders’ and ‘Coaching Supervision at its BEST’ Both ILM validated
Full Spectrum Supervision – Edna Murdoch & Jackie Arnold 2013
AWARDS: Executive Coaching
ECI & Exelerate