If you Google the term ‘leadership’, you get 2.2 Billion results! And, the definition doesn’t help much:
“Leadership is the action of leading”
– well that’s deep! And the synonyms include; authority, control, and management - all of which are at odds with many modern descriptions of effective leadership.
“There are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are people who have tried to describe the concept” (Bass, 1990)
I love this quote, partly because I myself am an author on leadership, and because it highlights that to understand leadership, you have to consider the context.
Wait a moment. Before we decide on a definition of leadership, let us first ask, “Why Leadership?”
We need Leadership because the World is Complex and Changing Fast. You’ve probably heard the term VUCA. VUCA is an acronym coined by the US army and stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, ...
Career conversations are not performance reviews, and they are not necessarily about a pay rise. They are about utilizing talents, developing skills, and sustaining motivation.
The strength and sustainability of a company depend on attracting, retaining, and developing good talent, and career conversations are a vital part of this. Considering the importance of these conversations, many managers feel at a loss on how to have them, and employees don't know how to prepare for them.
Karin was frustrated. She felt taken for granted and knew she was being under-compensated. What added insult to injury was that her manager made no attempt to engage her about what she wanted, despite her driving one of the biggest and most complicated technology projects in the company's history.
Karin confided in me, during our coaching together, that she had started to look outside her firm because she didn’t feel recognized and was not being recompensed for the impact she was making.
What is your leadership style? Does it stay constant, or vary depending on the context and motivation of your employees /team?
Leadership books and leadership blogs are fond of listing leadership traits, but to be an effective leader you need awareness of your default leadership style and behavioral flexibility depending on the context and level of employee motivation. That is going to take some practice.
Before we explore your leadership style, we must address the fact that there are about as many definitions of leadership as there are authors on the topic. This leadership blog is more focused on practice than theory, so a practical definition, from The Social Psychology of Leadership, is:
"Leadership is the process of influencing others in a manner that enhances their contribution to the realization of group goals."
I like this leadership definition because it speaks to a ‘process’ that requires ‘influence’....
There are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are people who have written on the topic. So, rather than complicate matters, I want to simplify this discussion on leadership to just 3-things, people, choices and economics.
I believe that when we understand these things, we can better understand people’s thinking and behavior, and therefore be a better leader.
“Did you meet your numbers?
Governments want to know the numbers, and leaders want to meet or exceed their numbers, but economics isn’t really about numbers. You might not believe me when you see economists pouring over data, creating graphs, charts and models, but the goal of real economics is:
“to uncover the unintended consequences of our choices.”
This perspective that social phenomena result exclusively from the motivations and actions of individuals is where economics (Austrian School) meets Self-leadership. In reality, economics is about...
As a people manager, your most important and impactful activities are the conversations you have with your staff about how they are doing and how they can develop themselves. With this level of importance, it is therefore surprising that so many of these conversations can end up leaving both parties unsatisfied.
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance, is a maxim I’m sure you've heard; well in the case of scheduled performance and development conversations this is very true. So how and what to plan?
When a human mind has a clear goal and feels motivated to achieve that goal, it rewards behaviors that move it towards that goal with little hits of the ‘feel good’ chemical, dopamine. In addition, when behaviors that move us towards a goal are recognized and acknowledged, we feel more motivated and are likely to increase our efforts.
This realization of human psychology means that before a conversation with a staff member, you must be...