Guiding the “vibe” or “personality” of your organizations culture is an important part of being a leader. And often it is what happens between the meetings and the group work sessions that shapes your organization’s culture as much or more than what happens at meetings and other group activities.
For example, the jokes you choose to laugh at will shape what is considered appropriate in your organization’s workplace. How much you choose to initiate “joking around” will also shape the personality of what kinds of interpersonal relationships people build. This goes for casual conversation as well—what will you engage in and how often?
The topics of casual conversations and how you respond to them will set a tone. Will you choose to engage in a casual conversation about politics or religion? How much or often will you engage in conversation about your personal life and family? How much is too much to know about someone’s personal life?
But it isn’t just you, observe your team members. Their reactions will tell you when they think something is too much. It may also fall to you to speak to a team member if they’ve taken things too far in a conversation or broached a taboo topic.
Some may believe that the garage of a mechanic shop and a boardroom or two different places that require different etiquette. However, in a successful business it is always important to strike the balance between goal-driven professionalism and a friendly work environment where smiles and laughs are welcome.
While having written guidelines in place is important, team members do not interact with guidelines every day. They do, however, interact with you and their peers each day. As a leader you should be a daily example of whatever guidelines have been set to print. What is accepted as usual from day to day will shape the personality of your organization more than its written counterpart.
Because collaboration is so important to creating value, a leader needs to be able to create support, negotiate, find partnerships and get through resistance to achieve the goal. But to make this work a leader needs integrity and cannot survive as pure politician. Customers and clients will only interact and make desire exchanges when they can trust an organization.
Organizations are also falling under increased regulatory scrutiny, here to a leader’s integrity is extremely important. In a data-based society trust must be part of the foundation of many relationships.
Because it is so easy to reach clients and customers across the world organizations have been held hostage and the ransom to conduct business is that they must think globally. “Locally” is anywhere one is doing business and understand the needs and values of each locality is an absolute must.
Specialized interactions that take into consideration even the most niche’ needs of potential partner or customer is no longer a marker of excellence but an expectation.
While the ideas here are generalized and certainly not exhaustive it is a solid base on which to build a new way to think about leading.
This new and digitized age also asks leaders to be hero whose superpower is both decisiveness and humility. They are needed in times of crisis to make bold decisions but they are also need to bring in people with, perhaps, very different backgrounds, skills and personalities. They need to be willing to learn from those who have less experience leading. They need to be inclusive; to be a good listener. They need to understand new technology but also how that new technology will touch and change all aspects of our society.
Continuing from this idea, it used to be that a leader could delegate away responsibilities concerning technology. New technologies can change the way an organization does everything. Therefore, a leader needs to understand how the technology will benefit the company.
Simultaneously a leader now needs to understand and care about people, how new technologies impact their lives. A great leader would bring his team together in such a way everyone walks away having a significant and far-reaching understanding of how something new will change everything, both in business and in their personal lives.
The purpose and value of an organization are very important in a world where disruption and change are constants.
Inside uncertainty, leaders who know very specifically what the purpose and values of the organization are can use them to guide the organization toward meaningful value creation. As the organization changes, the leader needs to be grounded in what its purpose and values. While purpose and values do change, they can serve as a foundation for everything else.
Leaders more than ever need to be willing to quickly and effectively try new things. But these experiments cannot come without limits Purpose and value provide those limits.
While the world has become more digital and more complex that simple statement doesn’t encapsulate the far-reaching implications of digital technology. Unlike other technologies before it, the changes to our social ecosystem caused by digitization have touched and changed almost everything.
To survive as a value-creator, a leader needs a new set of skills. This new set of skills include things like rely not only on one’s strengths but an ever-expanding skill set. Leaders learned to work with people who think different and come from many backgrounds. They put an emphasis on collaboration, especially in instances of serious differences.
Leaders more than ever have to think about what the future is going to look like and what their organization’s role in that future is going to be. Leaders need to be highly strategic and have the ability disassociate from day-to-day concerns to look into the horizon. They should always be looking for a way to create value.
However, being strategic isn’t enough. The new leader also needs to be able to execute plans to find new ways of making value. Usually, these decisions and putting them into action has to be done quickly as our world moves more and more rapidly.
Many people have qualified different styles of leadership; even more have debated which is the best style. Instead, consider carrying these with you like a multi-tool or swiss army knife. They will always be there; you just need to choose the right tool for the situation. During the normal operation of one’s organization they will probably become comfortable with one or two styles that come together with their personality to create the kind of leadership they will be known for. But all good leaders need to adapt to whatever is in front of them.
The pacesetting leader is one who says, do as I do now. This is also known as leading by example and often what people consider leadership to be. However, if your team are only ever doing as you do, there is no room for innovation or growth.
The authoritative leader demands come with me. This style is great for when a new vision or direction is needed. Often when an organization needs immediate change this is a great style to get your team motivated and moving in one direction.
The affiliative leader tells us that people come first. This style is often needed if there are tough times in the company and team members are hurting. It is nurturing, but too much nurturing leadership can weaken performance if team members come to rely on the leader too much.
The coaching leader encourage us to try things. This is a successful style when trying to establish a chain of leadership and responsibility in an organization. This kind of leader identifies his team members’ personal strengths and helps develop them, but it won’t work with a team that doesn’t want to learn or develop.
The coercive leader demands do what I tell you. This style of leadership is widely considered to only be a good choice in emergencies when decisions need to be made and executed swiftly. In long term use it will alienate team members.
The democratic leader asks what do you think? This is a great style for generating new ideas, team building or leadership building. It may not always be productive in everyday use as it slows things down.
W.C.H. Prentice in a landmark article defined leadership thusly: “the accomplishment of a goal through the direction of human assistants”
Prentice believed a successful leader is one who understands people’s motivations. They are someone who enlist organization members’ participation in a way that brings together the interests and needs of individuals to the group’s purpose. Prentice believed in a democratic leadership that gives organization members a space in which they can learn and grow. Yet, this space needs governed so there is not anarchy.
Prentice’s ideas about how to motivate people to support the organization’s purpose is timeless.
Leaders should always be getting to know their group’s members so they can understand their motivations. And one learning about those motivations using them as impetuous to spur that group member into action for the benefit of the organization and themselves.
Material rewards are important but there should also always be room for personal growth, and it is the leader’s job to create that opportunity. This personal growth should be linked both to the group member’s motivations and too the goals of the organization.