You don’t have to look too far to find articles about leadership, inspiration and motivation. In fact there’s so much written and said on this topic that it can be a challenge knowing just where to start. For me, the place to start is with the team that you will be leading. You may have seen my earlier blog about creating the winning team. If not then take a look, as no matter how good a leader you are, without the right people around, you are doomed to failure. WOW that was a bit direct. But in my opinion you have to be bold and make big bets if you want to win and to go from being good to being great. OK, so you’ve now gathered that perfect team together with just the right balance of Head, Heart and Hands. So how do you lead them on to greatness? At Burrows, we believe that there are four key elements.
To lead, you must get people to follow. To follow, people need a direction. Direction is achieved through having a vision. This vision can be a 5-year business plan or a creative brief for a two-week pitch. The duration doesn’t matter, as long as it is clear and concise. As a leader you must communicate your vision, set the course, and ensure that each individual understands how their own personal contribution will help the project, and the whole team, to get there.
So you’ve set out your vision and the team are all on board. So what now? Now you need to trust them to do their jobs. By all means step in when you need to with constructive guidance. But don’t micro manage and interfere at every stage of the journey if you don’t need to. Doing this will negatively affect their confidence, and one of three things will happen. They will give way and blindly follow and you will lose their expertise as a result. They will fight you if they disagree and you have needless friction in the team. Or they will simply leave, and you will have lost a valuable team member. Remember, good leadership is about knowing when to delegate. You’ve hired each member of that team for a reason. Now let them get on with the task in hand.
Everyone works differently. Different things motivate them. They communicate in different ways. As leader you must be on their wavelength if you want to get the best out of them. Sometimes it is obvious what makes people tick, other times it takes a bit of trial and error. As leader, you can’t sit in an ivory tower and not deal with your team. This isn’t the military! Invest your time. Get to know them. The results will speak for themselves.
The buck must stop somewhere. As a true leader, it ultimately stops with you. This is true when representing the team and when you need to shield more junior members from unhelpful attention. However, if you have empowered individuals to take ownership of their tasks, they must also be accountable when they have failed to deliver as agreed. In a constructive way, they should be made aware of the impact their failure has had on the project. This way people will learn and grow.
So once you have all the tools you just have to get on with it. Don’t expect it to be plain sailing. It won’t be! You will get things wrong. You will misjudge situations. You will misread people. But, most importantly if you are open and honest with your team; if you acknowledge your shortcomings along with theirs, you will win their trust, respect and maybe friendship. I know I have.
Chief Operations Officer