I was trying to write a pithy definition of Leadership to start this newsletter.
Struggling, I asked Doctor Google for help....
The Doc offered 637 million "Leadership articles” to peruse.
Gave me an astonishing 1.22 billion possible answers to my question "What is Leadership?".
And finally suggested a truly mind-boggling 1.37 billion "Leadership quotes" to consider.
Which most definitely was not helpful as I wanted to publish the article this week!
So, what the heck is Leadership?
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.” Said US Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter in a 1964 ruling.
But Justice Potter wasn’t referring to Leadership “within that shorthand description”. He was talking about pornography. But I think he could just as easily have been talking about leadership: “I know it when I see it”.
What does true leadership look like to you?
Take a moment to reflect on:
- Who are the best leaders you’ve ever worked for?
- How did you feel working for them?
- How would you compare your performance versus working for a poor leader?
- How much did you learn and progress under them
The people I’ve worked for, whom I’d consider to be great leaders, made me feel I was an important part of the team and my input was welcomed. When working for them I did more, worked harder for longer and always tried to give my best. I also learnt lots and went on to better roles.
But my strongest memory is that I really enjoyed my work.
And, in case your wondering, it wasn't about the money. I did it for my own sake. It just made me feel good.
How do you improve your leadership?
Over the years, I’ve condensed my view of what good leaders do into two things: they create the conditions for people to be self-motivated and they build a safe and enjoyable work environment.
My research and advisory work over the last four years has proven to me that you need to focus on five things to achieve this:
- Competence. Ensure your team feel and are capable, that they’re learning and improving, they know how they’re doing, and they feel a sense of accomplishment
- Relatedness. Ensure the team have and share the values that you want in your business. Everyone on the team should understand and want to do what they’re doing, and they must know why they’re doing it and how it fits with the team and wider business objectives.
- Autonomy. Involve them in decisions by asking for their input, actively listening to them and taking the time to explain. Give them a feeling of control over what they’re doing and how they do it.
- Fairness. Do not have favourites. Wherever possible, be transparent in your decision making. Treat everyone fairly: colleagues, teams, customers, suppliers, all stakeholders.
- Trust: Look out for and look after your team. Stamp out office politics and back-stabbing. Let people be open and honest, and be free to ask questions and challenge without fear of reprimand or recrimination.
This is what I call the CRAFT of Leading™.
How do you put the CRAFT of Leading™ into practice?
It is difficult in the pressures of our day-to-day working lives to apply things like this.
The only way to do it is to build them into a habit. To help do that, I recommend you use the five elements as a decision checklist.
Before doing anything involving people ask yourself:
“Is what I’m about to do or say going to:
- Help build competence or damage it?
- Strengthen relatedness or weaken it?
- Be autonomy supportive or controlling?
- Fair or unfair?
- Build or break trust?”
If the answer to any of these questions is negative, you are about to do something that will damage your team’s engagement and morale. So try to re-evaluate and re-frame to avoid that. Not always possible to be honest, but at worst you’ll lessen the damage you're about to do.
It’s a bit more complicated at the organisational level, as you need to explicitly embed this into your business operating system. That takes time, effort and perserverance.
But if you want a shortcut, you could ask me to help you. I’ve integrated the CRAFT of Leading™ into my Entrepriseurial Growth System (EGS) that I use to help leaders drive sales and profit growth in their business.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record….Gallup studies show that when compared with business units in the bottom 25% of engagement, those in the top 25% realise improvements of 20% higher sales and 21% higher profitability,
Which I reckon means 45% higher profits.
Not a bad return for building a team of people who are involved with, committed to, and enthusiastic about their work.
I hope you enjoy developing your CRAFT of Leading™ and seeing your team’s engagement increase over the coming weeks and years.
Let me know how you get on please.
PS: In case you’re getting bored of this employee engagement stuff, my next newsletter will take a different direction, I'm going to talk about the building blocks you need to successfully grow and scale your business.
PPS: And finally, just in case you're curious, I help business owners, MDs and CEOs get reliable, no nonsense, practical answers to their most pressing businses issues. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to find out more or click the big green button below to book a 15 minute chat.