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Sit up and listen – Part 2

By November 13, 2019April 8th, 2020Leadership

In our September newsletter, we explored one subject we love to present on, when we speak at conferences.  And we promised a second theme so here it is.  Something key, that is making our audiences sit up and listen.

This one is about leadership and our thoughts on what leaders need to grasp to thrive in changing times.  Our thoughts are many, so here are just a few.

  1. Learn to think big and small – often at the same time.  We call it “head in the strategy, hands in the kitchen sink.”  It’s the ability to know when to look up and think ahead and when to look down and embrace the detail.  You may go out and do some ground-breaking work for your organisation to lead it in to the next phase, but you still need to deal with some mundane but necessary tasks when you get back.  The art of leadership is knowing when to do what.
  2. Get your head around 21st century motivation.  This is the battle of the extrinsic and the intrinsic and it is a battle that has kept the motivation theorists theorising since the 1950s.  Here’s the bottom line.  The extrinsic motivators are front of mind when they’re wrong.  So just get them off the table.  This means you pay people properly, have decent benefits, a workplace fit for purpose and managers who know how to manage well.  Once you’ve dealt with all that, you leave the way clear for the intrinsic motivators.  They’re so much more valuable to you as a leader, because they’re about having fulfilling work,  a sense of achievement, growth, purpose and accountability.  Create an environment full of those where people can motivate themselves and you’ll have something worth putting your leadership energy into.
  3. Let them bite at your ankles. Leaders should be thinking about succession, often and in a positive way.  That doesn’t mean that everyone has to get or even want your job.  It means you should be thinking about how everyone can grow in their role and beyond.  Expose them to new challenges, involve them on projects, and stretch their thinking.  Do it now, don’t wait until you need it.  Ask yourself what you want former team members to say about their time with you.  That you were a great example and role model (good).  Or that you enabled them and propelled them to greater things (better).

Whether you’re a leader already or aspiring to be one, there are always new thoughts on leadership.  To sit up and really listen though, you have to get your head out of the kitchen sink.