HOW TO BECOME A WORLD-CLASS LEADER
One of the most powerful things you can do in your lifetime is to grow your leadership capability and skills. You see, we are all leaders. You may lead your family, or your local football club, or your department of 5 people, or your start-up business of 2 people, or your business of 100 people or even a global enterprise made up of 1,000’s. Leadership is influence, and it starts with you.
In this blog, you’ll learn:
The importance of developing your leadership capability
There is undoubtedly one differentiating factor in those businesses that are thriving, versus those that are just surviving, and that is the breadth and depth of their leadership capability.
The business arena today requires a new kind of leadership as businesses are having to do more with less in this fast-paced environment, with increasing competition and demanding customers. To give your business the competitive edge you and your leaders need to be more focused, more agile and more resilient than ever before.
To become a world-class leader, you must develop your leadership capability and arm yourself with the tools, the skills and the mindset to be the best you can be in maximising your potential to lead the business with purpose and unlock the potential in others.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch
Become a world-class leader and build your leadership capability on three tracks;
- I Lead Self – a great leader of Self focuses on the inner game of leadership and can answer the critical question; why should you lead anyone?
- I Lead the Business – a great business leader has a clear understanding of the business dynamics, knows how to lead a business growth plan and can answer the question; where do we want to be in 5 years?
- I Lead Others – a great people leader builds high performing teams, gives inspirational and developmental feedback and can help others answer the question; why do you do what you do?
When I share the three tracks of leadership capability – I lead Self, I lead the Business, I lead Others – I am often asked why do I present them in that order; Self, Business and Others. Surely it should be Self, Others and then Business? And my response is always this.
To become a world-class leader, you must first look in your mirror (I lead Self).
Great leaders recognise that their people will only ever be a reflection of them – aptly captured in the expression the aircrew use when doing the safety demonstration before take-off “Fit your mask before you help anyone else!”.
To be a leader of others must start with being a world-class leader of yourself. It is not an external journey; it is an inside job working on your mindset, your habits and even your goals and aspirations.
After I lead Self comes, I lead the business. Yes, your focus will switch from tactical leadership to strategic as you lead the business through daily challenges, but ultimately you know your vision, your purpose, and your growth plan to bring it to fruition.
To lead the business, you’ll have to lead others. You’ll have to lead your people through good times and bad, through challenges and successes, and ongoing barrage of change. Together you’ll work through the how and unlock their potential on the way.
To become a world-class leader and hone your leadership capability will not happen overnight. It will take focus and commitment and will require consistency of thought and action.
But the starting point is building your leadership capability on three tracks; I lead Self, I lead the business, I lead others.
Why being a great leader of others starts with being a great leader of yourself
Success in life usually comes down to 80% mindset and 20% strategy, but where do you think most leaders spend their time and energy when developing their leadership capability?
In 20% strategy, focused on the WHAT and the HOW. Don’t get me wrong focusing on strategy is fundamentally important, but it shouldn’t be the first thing you focus on. The first thing you should focus on is YOU and your mindset.
I’m back to this question again; why should you lead anyone? Or put another way, why should anyone follow you?
Once you can answer this question, then yes, strategy (I lead the business) comes in to play.
“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it…but that it is too low and we hit it!” Michelangelo
To help you work on your inner game of leadership and become the world-class leader you’re destined to be, check out the following blog posts focused entirely on developing you.
How to set and achieve your 2020 goals
You’re going to take knocks, some days are going to feel like a train crash, and you will go down blind alleys. But if you have an ultimate destination in your mind’s eye, a focused goal and purpose coupled with the drive, determination and motivation then when you do fall over, you’ll pick yourself up, dust yourself off, improvise, adapt and refocus on your goals.
How to coach a winning mindset
Sometimes we can get stuck in a pattern of thinking, a mindset which can be limiting, or even de-railing. Following this same pattern closes our mind to the sense of possibilities around us, meaning we can miss positive and beneficial change without even realising it.
Six steps to creating habitual change that sticks
You do things for your reasons, and that includes wanting to change. It’s personal to you, and when your motivation for change is unlocked, it will create a response. Remember, the catalyst for change is never a matter of ability; it’s a matter of motivation.
In your pursuit of becoming a world-class leader comes personal mastery.
Sometimes, particularly as adults, we slip into the trap of complacency, operating in a state of unconsciousness where it feels like are just going through the motions. It’s the day you move into a place that I call ‘the groove or the grave’ – no man’s land. It’s the day you accept your place in the world of mediocrity where just enough is good enough. It’s the day when you lose your edge and stop being your best Self.
In an increasingly competitive world, there is no such thing as standing still. All around you, people are actively moving forwards and standing still really means you’re falling behind. Learn something new today should not be just a lesson from when you were a child, it should be a lifelong lesson.
Every day, you decide how much effort you’re going to put in; a little, or what’s expected or the extra mile. I promise you; few choose the last option. It’s certainly not a crowded place. But it is often the place where the difference between good leaders and world-class leaders are made. It is the place of personal mastery, and I lead Self.
Six skills you need to lead the business
In a competitive market where there is a greater demand on businesses, people and resources, leaders play a critical and ever-increasing role in maximising the performance of their teams, and ultimately the business.
Building a high performing business doesn’t just happen. It takes discipline, boundless levels of drive and energy, and it requires ALL of your people to be aligned, focused on one vision; one goal.
Your journey to becoming a world-class leader can be accelerated through tapping into a proven framework, the I Lead the Business framework.
#1 Be prepared for change
The one constant in the market today is change. Any leader, irrespective of business size, sector or scope has a critical role to play when leading change. Ultimately you have to become an active change agent regardless of whether you see change as an opportunity or a threat, a friend or a foe; the impact of change is real.
How you manage this impact – to the individuals involved and the business overall – will determine how quickly you can move through the change curve, moving your people through rationalisation to acceptance to the future.
Changing readiness means thinking differently; relevance, agility and organisational resilience are front of mind when developing your growth plans.
#2 Build a high-performance business
It’s a certainty that you know a high performing organisation when you see one. There are clues all around.
Disney built a reputation as a leader in customer experience, which has remained unchallenged for more than 60 years. LEGO® is the second biggest toymaker in the world, with a respected and loved global brand that has remained popular for nearly 70 years. The list could go on. But what are their methods that guarantee their position in history as exemplars of best practice and enduring greatness?
A high performing business has five key traits;
A vision or purpose which gives purpose and meaning
A set of values and behaviours which sets the tone
A strategic plan which details your goals, priorities and direction of travel
An ability to execute the plan
A performance culture
A critical part of your role as a business leader is the Chief Storyteller. Among your responsibilities is to connect your people with your story, your vision and purpose for your business. In doing so, you create meaning to what they do and how they do it, so they can find their compelling reason to feel inspired, energised and motivated to deliver their best work.
#3 Be commercial ‘savvy’
Developing a commercial mindset is essential for any leader, never mind one who wants to become world-class.
Understanding where the competitive battleground for your business is, and the strategy you have in place to fight and win on this battleground is the difference between a good business and a great business. While it might not be as vicious or cutthroat as ‘Game of Thrones’ it is still a battleground.
Whether it’s the price of your products or the lifetime value of your customers or the margins you operate within, knowing these numbers (and more!) and how they are all intrinsically linked could be the difference between whether you make a profit or not.
Do you know your competitive battleground? And more importantly, are you winning?
#4 Develop a laser beam customer focus
‘We need to look at our business through the eyes of our customer’ or ‘we need to place our customers at the heart of our business’ are often two statements that fall off the back of a ‘customer experience’ conversation or focus.
Many businesses talk about the customer being at the centre of their thinking and behaviours and yet in answer to the simple question; is there a specific leader responsible for customer experience in your business, the response is often a resounding ‘NO’. Words and actions are often misaligned.
World-class leaders design and build their entire value proposition, systems and processes around the customer and frequently ask the question; ‘How easy are we to do business with?’. Unfortunately, too many businesses fall into the trap of the polar opposite. They build technical solutions, products and services inside out without any due thought or consideration, input or testing with the real customer.
Don’t over-engineer your customer journey adding in costly processes and touchpoints which don’t add additional value in the minds of your customers. Be mindful in your service experience design that you do not fall into this trap.
#5 Hone your business growth mindset
Without customers, businesses don’t exist. FACT. The challenge is that most business leaders over-engineer their business growth model, making it more complicated than it needs to be.
Yes, you can reduce costs to increase profits, but reducing costs is finite. You can only cut back so far. Yes, you can buy a competitor or similar business to drive growth, but with this comes additional cost. Plus the significant amount of effort it will take to manage the integration.
Strip it all back, and it comes down to four fundamental questions;
How do you increase the number of customers?
How do you increase their average order value?
How do you increase their average order frequency?
How do you retain more customers?
Having in place a structured and sustainable business growth strategy focused on the four questions of business growth will help you grow your business organically year-on-year.
#6 Lead stakeholder engagement
Success in business today is not just about your ability to create positive stakeholder relationships; it’s also your team’s ability to positively impact others by forging strong partnerships, both internally & externally. Think of it as the ‘power of the whole’ performing at peak.
Understanding the nuances and differences between developing internal versus external relationships is a skill. Knowing how to navigate multiple agenda’s, motivations and priorities is a skill. Building stakeholder relationships & networks is a skill. Have you got this skillset in your armoury?
What you need to lead others to success
Your people are silently begging to be led and are looking to you for direction, encouragement and inspiration. A world-class leader wins the hearts and minds of their people to deliver with passion and commitment, not because they have to, but because they want to.
“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” Henry Kissinger
I Lead Others, focuses on you the people leader; the influencer, armed with the knowledge, mindset and skillset to unlock your peoples’ potential and unleash their success.
A leader who leads others to success knows…
…the precise tools to use on every interaction with their people and can give candid and open feedback, both inspirational and developmental.
…when coaching is appropriate when an individual needs tough love, when to listen and when to interject.
…that performance management is all about culture; it’s a way of being when building and leading their high performing teams.
…each individual team member is crystal clear on their role, performance criteria, and expectations from the business, there are no hidden surprises!
One of the greatest assets of your business walks out of the door every night. What are you doing to get them to return next day energised, enthused and motivated to be the best they can be and consistently operating at their peak?
Motivation is a personal choice, and your role as a world-class leader is to clearly understand what the driving forces and motivational triggers are for your people. The moment you create the bridge in their mind – the link between their personal goals and business goals – self-motivation kicks in.
Every person experiences important moments in their lives, but in business, there is one that stands out above all others: the moment a person changes from someone with a job to someone with a purpose. While the motivation to do so must come from within, the triggers that compel them to make the switch are the ones you can create.
World-class leaders get the most out of their people by spending a high proportion of their time and energy, coaching them and building their thinking capability. You may have heard the saying ‘I haven’t hired you just to do, I’ve hired you to think’.
A world-class leader questions, listens and remains silent to allow the individual time to think. They understand that it’s not the knowing when to be silent that’s important, it’s knowing when to break the silence. This time, between the silence and the response, is where a world-class leader develops another world-class leader.