Leading From The Front

LeadershipTwo weeks ago, as part of the organisational leadership team, I participated in our effective leadership training workshop.The workshop covered two areas:

1. Our leadership styles and
2. The organisational climate those styles had created

This post is not about the details of that workshop but more about the take-outs I, personally, had. Two take outs, specially, I believe are of value to anyone leading a team in any circumstances.

1. Empathy:Whilst there are many leadership styles, depending on the school of thought and particular model used, one key factor for a leader to be respected, as a leader, is empathy. Empathy for and with one’s team enables a leader to connect, first, on a humane level, and secondly, be able to understand the perspective of his team-mate. This helps greatly in understanding the effectiveness of the team-mate and aids in assisting the team-mate with regards to any issues and problems.

2. Situational: The leadership style used is purely situational. Depending on the task at hand, the objective to be achieved and the timeline, a leader uses the best leadership style, in his armoury, to get the job done efficiently and effectively.

With these two key factors, when leading a team, a third critical factor comes into play– EI– Emotional Intelligence. A lot has been written about EI and I’m not going to labour what is EI or how one should know one’s EI and thus use it in conjunction with the points mentioned earlier.

What I will highlight is the importance of EI when one is responsible for being a leader.

As a leader it is imperative that you know yourself  i.e. you are aware of your identity, personality and the image you are perceived as. Knowing this enables you to regulate your interactions with another person as each interaction will have an objective. Many of us go into inter-personal interaction without a thought on this area. We act and each of these acts have an impact or an effect. We, through our behaviour, are the cause and in turn receive back the effect. Thus, if as a leader, you are unsure of your identity and self value, the input that you provide in an interaction, be it personal or professional, can be direction-less. Result– the effect is not as you desired!

Understanding your own EI starts with knowing one’s self. Knowing one’s values and one’s principles that those values create. This leads to a particular identity of self, which then one knowingly projects.

Having managed brands for over two decades now, let me assure you that the process of developing a brand identity, is not different from developing one’s personal brand. Today personal branding has become a buzz word. But at the core of it all, lies self-identification and a maturity in knowing and accepting one’s self. This is the cornerstone of EI in a professional setting.

Summing it up, whilst we will all attend various leadership development courses, in our career, the critical point is that of self-inflection that such a course creates.

Use the data provided (by the leadership survey) to reflect inward honestly. And in order to do that one has to have very high EQ. A self-inflection, if done positively can work wonders for the leader and for his or her team. It shows up practically immediately in the inter-personal interactions and in the work output. The change is tangibly noticeable.

So if you are leading from the front, start with some constructive feedback on your leadership and ensure you are grounded and part of your team.