Over the last few years I have spent hours, days and weeks with leaders at different stages in their career. As with anyone who works in the leadership arena, I am lucky to have gained real insight into leadership behaviours and the challenges that your people might face with your leadership style. It's also allowed me the luxury of reflecting on my own leadership style and the challenges it can create.
I think the key challenge facing any leader is a lack of self awareness. I've sat with leaders who tell me they understand exactly who they are, that they know their strengths and weaknesses. Often, although not always, there is deeper insight available from talking to the people who experience their leadership style on a daily basis.
Leadership style is often reflective of the culture in which that leader matures in. I remember very clearly working with a challenging kitchen team in my early hotel career where you had to 'attack or be attacked'. I later moved to a different hotel and a different role and adopted the same attitude. I quickly came to blows with Chef who very politely asked me never to speak to his team like that again. An early leadership lesson for me – you should never allow your environment to influence your leadership style.
I've seen it in others this year too. Leaders who lead through aggression, over-confidence and fear – oblivious that they are not engaging their people. As a facilitator and coach, my job isn't to tell people this but to allow them to discover it for themselves. I had an email last week from a client that I've been doing particularly challenging coaching with and it says:
"Thank you for the most challenging six months of my life. I never realised the damage I was doing with my leadership style – I've still not cracked it but my team have recently giving me feedback that they are enjoying coming to work again".
Let's think about that for a moment. The key message there is about great improvement. Imagine if that had been left with no intervention. The damage to productivity of your people and business could be catastrophic. At the very least you could lose your best people.
What do you need to change about your leadership style in 2018? Why do you think you are brilliant at? When did you last ask the people around you what they think? Would they be comfortable in being honest with you?
As a leader at any level in an organisation, you have the power to influence the workplace and your business for the better, it just comes down to choice.
We are all reflecting as we enter 2018, who knows what the year ahead holds for us. One thing is for sure… engaging and self-aware leaders will prosper.