What characterises modern day leadership practice? In truth, a casual observer focused on media channels might be hard pressed to move beyond greed, vested interests, abuse of power, poor ethics, ‘Me first’, and a top-down targeted culture.
Unfortunately, they are the product of the ‘command and control’ culture which has blighted organisations across the world for too long. It is a common set of practices that has existed for decades. In fact, the command and control culture is still very much alive and thriving around the world, despite some great advances in leadership thinking and modelling.
So, given the dawn of a new growing season in nature, it seemed appropriate to consider what is needed now to revitalise our leadership attitudes and practices. At the heart of my view lies the strong belief that we need to refresh our leadership roots.
In all my years of experience as a leader and manager, in the public, private and voluntary and community sectors, I have tried to keep things simple. I believe in getting the basics right and bringing out the best in people. Doing so meant that I, our team and our organisation benefitted and flourished.
Refreshing those roots is based on building trust by being authentic and keeping on top of your game. How to do that may often be hard as fragility is an all too human trait. However, we can all make sure that we do the basics right. This includes:
- Building trust, not resorting to compliance;
- Showing courage, not being risk-averse;
- Being authentic, not game playing;
- Listening actively, not just waiting for your opportunity to speak; and,
- Expressing what you think and how you feel, without destroying the other person.
Our roots are built on things we don’t often discuss in our teams and organisations. They are the values – individual and organisational – that need to be aligned so we can all achieve together. Too often they are assumed or presumed. Be crystal clear on your own and your organisation’s values. Revisit them regularly, alone and in groups, and ensure that they are aligned. Once misaligned, more key elements of your work culture will fall into disrepair, with inevitable consequences and this will prove difficult to recover.
Finally, to refresh your roots, focus on maintaining and improving your core skills as a leader and manager. Fluent communication, the use of digital technologies, effective performance management, resilient coaching, powerful change management and successful teamwork are at the heart of the basics! Armed with these you will be ready for anything! Transformation – of yourself, your team and your organisation and, ultimately, outcomes for your service users – will become the new reality!