Strong words, but it is time. With changing work patterns, increasing competition, and uncertainty around every corner, it is time to kickstart your leadership revolution.
Our customers expect more choice and personalisation and our employees want work to work better for them. Moving away from the more traditional hierarchies, top-down communications, and number of years in the job leading to promotional opportunities, our leadership styles need to change – sometimes quite dramatically – to serve our people and our customers better. You may well need to revolt to remain relevant.
Yes, this means more change and change can be hard. Changing the way you behave at work will not happen easily or overnight. You may have to fight for it. You may find it harder before it gets easier. You’ll likely be a very different leader to the one you were when you started.
Working with leaders across many very different industries, we believe that there are three key areas you can change that will make a real difference to how you lead your people. Purpose, trust, and communication.
- Purpose – Why are we doing something and why should anyone else care?
- Trust – Trust in ourselves, trust in others, and trust in the decisions we make.
- Communication – Real talking, that leads to even more real listening.
Your leadership revolution might be just around the corner. Here’s how you can start to take charge of this change today.
Inspire people to believe in the purpose
In the words of Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
Leaders who know why they do what they do, who share their purpose with their team, and who make people believe in the pain point the business is addressing, will inspire people. If everyone is behind the purpose and genuinely wants to play a role in solving customer problems, and they feel comfortable putting their hand up and saying “Here’s what we could do to achieve that”, it can be transformative.
So, what’s your purpose? Identify it, and share it. Tell people why you do what you do, how that aligns with the goals and values of the business, and what role they can play in achieving those goals.
Trust yourself, trust others, and trust your decisions
People aren’t just going to accept your purpose as their own unless you demonstrate trust. So how do you do that? By adopting open communication styles, by demonstrating honesty, showing vulnerability, and acknowledging when you’re wrong. Leaders who do this will reap the benefits of a team who feel more inclined to collaborate and co-operate.
In her book Daring Greatly, Harvard researcher Brené Brown uses a marble jar analogy to explain how we build trust: “Whenever someone supports you, or is kind to you, or sticks up for you, or honors what you share with them as private, you put marbles in the jar. When people are mean, or disrespectful, or share your secrets, marbles come out.”
How many marbles have you given out lately?
Though before they can trust others, leaders need to trust themselves, to trust in their own decisions, and trust in the direction the company is going. If you know your purpose, this becomes quite simple. Decisions are made by asking: does this action align with my purpose? So again, what’s your purpose?
Empower people by giving them a voice
This is a revolution. You need everybody on board, and you’re getting there. You’ve shown everyone why you’re doing something and you’ve worked to build trust. Now you need to give people a role in making change happen.
People who can say, “I had this idea” and “I made this happen” will be far more motivated, liberated, and fulfilled. This relies on real two-way communication. It relies on you creating a welcoming space for people to share their ideas, and then actually listening to them.
So how do you get people not to say, “I was told to do it”, but instead, “We did it ourselves”? Through real listening; by asking people for feedback, responding to that feedback, and demonstrating and encouraging open communication throughout the organisation.
When people work together, they can build the impossible. This is what we need to do as leaders. This is the revolution that we need to kickstart. If we have a purpose, if we trust, and if we give people a voice and actually listen to them, we can build ourselves up and build up the people around us. In doing so, we can build our business to grow in a scalable, sustainable, and people-led way.
Now is the time to start the revolt. What’s your purpose? How can you get people to trust in your decisions as a leader? Finally, and most importantly, how can you make them part of those decisions?