Recently, whilst clearing out some old files from my online library, I came across a piece of work on leadership behaviour that I had carried out over eight years ago that still appeared to be current.
At that time, I had been working with a senior team in the construction industry, specifically on their leadership brand, and had asked them to define leadership in the context of their organisation.
Over several sessions, I'd spent time with each member of the team asking them the question “what does leadership mean to you, within the context of your organisation?”
A number of insights emerged from these conversations and I'd like to share them with you.
Using the team's metaphor of taking a mid table Premier League soccer club to one that would seriously challenge for the Champions League trophy, three key headings started to form, each with behaviours sitting underneath that the team had identified as critical to great leadership:
- Establishes, maintains and ensures an absolute focus on delivery
- Embraces and accepts accountability with consequence, and develops this with the rest of the team
- Shows trust by adopting a way of working that can be viewed as "Management By Getting Out of the Way"
- Not a "YES" man / woman…is someone who will readily challenge the status quo, thinking and practice
- Keeps it simple and demonstrates an ability to cut through the fuzzy stuff to get to the heart of an issue
- Makes and communicates decisions with a sense of authority and conviction
- Holds a clear vision and shares this with the rest of the team, continually reinforcing the message with passion and drive
- Establishes and maintains a high profile and visibility within the team - "Management By Walking About"
- Takes a keen interest in people and is sensitive to the needs of both the individual and team
- Balances leading from the front and from the touchline, according to the situation
- Consistently acts as an authentic leadership role model for the team and the organisation
- Has a strong appreciation, and is an advocate of, the organisation's business model
- Trusted in his or her industry & market
- Speaks with authority, can be outspoken and fights own corner
- Is dynamic, passionate and enjoys life
- Is a BIG picture thinker and lifts away from unnecessary levels of detail
- Easily navigates through the business, cutting through organisational barriers and red tape
- Is a proven winner and has an resolute self belief
- Just gets on and deals with the ambiguity thrown up by change
- Readily encourages and accepts challenge from others
As I read it for the first time in all those years, it struck me that these leadership behaviours represented the many and varied definitions of leadership that I have heard or read over the subsequent time.
The senior team went on to use these in their organisation as a benchmark to assess leadership and how people measured up. I'd be interested to learn what you think of these statements and how you may use something similar.
Do these represent the leadership brand you have, or would like to have, in your organisation? Which statements do you agree with and which ones do you not agree with?
And, what is the one behaviour that you consider critical to great leadership that is missing from the list?