February 20, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Leadership and Kindness

How does being kind have a positive effect on your leadership goals?  Kindness is a concept taught in most major philosophies and religions in the world today, but you don’t need a specific spiritual belief system in order to impart kindness into your leadership.  We are taught as children to be kind, generous and to care for those around us, as in turn, they will be kind back to us.  Obviously, in individual situations, a kind approach can be applied when leading your team, but in a more general way, how can you be #BeKind as Leader?

Maria Gamb offers 4 “Be’s” to consider when trying to embrace Kindness in your Value-Based Leadership approach:

  1. Be of Service
    “A good leader, a kind leader, helps to remove obstacles so a team member can do their job to the best of their ability”.  Through coaching and support, a kind leader is of service to their team members.
  2. Be a Guardian
    You are the guardian of your team, ensuring that they get the recognition with you and you are not the only one in the spotlight.
  3. Be Generous
    Be aware of what your team need – whether it’s encouragement, inclusion, honesty, or something else – and provide it generously. Give them what they need to succeed
  4. Be Diligent
    When considering the ramifications of your decisions and actions on others, use kindness and common sense.

Kindness as a leader may be most noticeable in tough times, perhaps because that is where it is least expected, but it should be integrated into your daily leadership seamlessly and without fanfare.  If you are only kind in order to receive praise in return, you risk looking like an attention-seeker.  In Value-Based Leadership, we should work to embody kindness without waiting to be acknowledged for it.  As a Leader, when we can be anything to our team, it is our responsibility to be kind.

January 20, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Leadership in Uncertain Times

Uncertainty.  This seems to be the theme of 2020 before the year has even really begun!  How do leaders design their strategies for the year ahead, never mind approach budget plans and create projections for the future when we simply do not know what the next year holds for the UK?

Strong, successful leaders should be able to steer companies through this uncertain time and continue to deliver in the same way as they would when the future is secure, profits are high and stakeholders are happy – but that is easier said than done, so how do leaders lead in uncertain times?

I recently reread an article I’d saved by Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. the author of From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership.  In it he said “By knowing myself and my values, being committed to balance and having true self-confidence and genuine humility, I can far more easily make decisions, no matter if I'm facing a crisis or an opportunity.”  I am an avid supporter of Value-Based Leadership as an approach to both personal and business growth, and this quote reminded me that its principles are a great first step when leaders are faced with uncertainty.

An organisation with clearly defined values, a well-documented purpose and an easily articulated ethos is one that can navigate any crisis.  Value-Based Leadership is a way of making decisions and evaluating your own and your team’s performance based on your organisation’s values rather than focusing entirely on metrics and milestones.

In times of uncertainty and change, the goal posts may be constantly changing, but a company’s values should stay constant.  As teams are asked to adapt to new situations, and learn new things, performance criteria will need to adapt too.  By using a Value-Based approach, not only are you creating a supportive and flexible company culture, but you are enabling feedback and growth measurement to continue through change and uncertainty.

The first principle of Value-Based Leadership is self-reflection.  In order to lead others successfully, you need to be self-aware and really understand what your company’s values are and what matters most.  Taking stock of your own position and knowing what you and your organisation stand for, makes it much easier to know what to do in any situation.

But Value-Based Leadership is not about acting blindly according to your own viewpoint. The second principle is balance - in other words, being able to gain a full understanding of a situation by seeing it from other people’s perspectives and opinions. Balance means approaching situations with an open mind and engaging with your team members frequently and authentically.

The third principle is about self-belief and confidence.  You need to recognise your strengths and weaknesses and continuously strive to improve.  This does not mean that arrogance is a coveted trait in a successful leader.  In fact, the fourth principle is genuine humility.  You should treat each person you encounter with the same respect you would like to be treated with.  Humility is also about knowing that you do not have all of the answers, or all of the time, and knowing when to ask for help and look outside for support.  That’s a great 2020 goal for any leader in any organisation.

Here are Connect Three’s top tips for leading your organisation through an uncertain year:

1. Keep Talking
Silence is unlikely to be interpreted as a good thing by your colleagues, customers or suppliers!  You should communicate often - reinforcing clearly, and repeatedly what your plans are, keeping your teams in the loop whenever things change and letting them know what your response will be.

2. Enable Others to Lead
Help develop the skills of other leaders, potential leaders & possible superstars in your organisations now, so that they are ready to step up when you need them to.  Essential Leadership skills courses are available through Scottish Enterprise and are designed to do just that.

3. Don’t stop Planning
You need to keep planning for the long and short term of your organisation and your team. Topics like personal development and appraisals may be the last thing on your list when facing a crisis, but culture and morale will suffer if you maintain your focus on the immediate future.

4. Stay Engaged
Great leaders know that they don’t have all of the answers.  They are confident that they have surrounded themselves with people capable of more than just freeing up their managers’ time.  Whether your organisation is doing well, or struggling, you hired a great team, so stay engaged with them, ask questions and be open to hearing the answers.

November 28, 2019Comments are off for this post.

Gratitude as a Leadership Quality

This week our American clients will be marking Thanksgiving.  It may not be something that we celebrate in Scotland, but it did spark a conversation in the office about gratitude and saying ‘thank you’ in business.

The British sense of etiquette means that ‘thank you’, ‘please’ and ‘sorry’ are drummed into the average school child to the point where we apologise for bumping into doorways.  That in turn means, to quote coach Jen Sincero: “When someone doesn’t say thank you […] it’s as glaring an omission to me as if they’ve shown up without their pants on.”  As true as that may be in our daily business lives, there is a big difference between ‘thank you’ and being a leader with an attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude is not a quality often highlighted as a required attribute for a successful leader, but praise and recognition for team members when they do great job is critical.  It is more than just the act of saying ‘thank you’ that will make a team member feel appreciated.  You could involve them in the decision-making process of your projects to show them that their contributions are valuable, or provide them with opportunities for growth.   A study by the American Psychological Association in 2012 showed that 70% of employees felt valued at work when they were given opportunities for personal development.

While it’s true that actions speak louder than words, as Gertrude Stein famously said: “Silent gratitude isn’t much  use to anyone,” so don’t assume that your team know you are grateful for their work because you are helping them grow.  You still need to tell them and make sure you are specific, authentic and sincere.  Having an attitude of gratitude in your day-to-day work will encourage positivity, appreciation and a willingness to work hard in your team.  In her 2017 Forbes article, executive coach Christine Comaford talks about how being a grateful leader helps you see the positive in tough situations and experience less stress and fatigue.  Ingratitude, on the other hand causes a negative outlook which can lead to mistakes, missed opportunities and misjudged situations.

As Geoffrey James says: “People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.”

Success and gratitude go hand-in-hand, but it does take a while to strengthen your attitude of gratitude, so get practicing!  Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to give it a try and spend a couple of days of feeling thankful for what you have, and appreciating what others do.  See how it impacts on your leadership and whether it becomes a focus for your development in the future.

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