How the attitudes of a high performing leader make developing their people a top priority to produce bottom-line results.
Any company, business or person occupying a supervisory role looking to galvanise a team, create a positive environment of high performance, and increase productivity should be seriously considering their management practises and ultimately their effectiveness.
Research shows transforming inconsistent management approaches into consistent, effective leadership ones could be the way forward for increased productivity and business growth.
What is the difference between management and leadership?
A quick google search will effortlessly unearth plenty of material on the subject, each with their particular perspective towards their Pros and Cons and an obligatory cautionary list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for middle management.
But the thing that they ALL agree on is that the main difference between managers and leaders is that leaders have people follow them while managers have people who work for them.
You may well manage the day-to-day running of your business, but do you demonstrate leadership? Leadership is about inspiring people to work with you, not commanding them to work for you. The first step is sharing your vision, which should not solely be about your business. It’s also about your desire to see people perform at their absolute best and how you are going to enable this. It should be genuine and more than mere words. It needs to be demonstrated in your actions, your beliefs, and your very being.
My experience as an adult instructor with the Royal Air Force Air Cadets over the last 30 years, meant that my understanding of leadership came from the military. The “holy grail” for the leader was the acronym SMEAC (Situation – Mission – Execution – Any questions – Check understanding).
S – Situation: describe the situation to your team
M – Mission: explain the mission (the task)
E – Execution: state how the task is going to be executed
A – Any questions: ask if there are any questions
C – Check understanding: then using questioning techniques to check the understanding of your team
A very practical approach, to a task-orientated objective, but of course leadership is so much more than just achieving the task.
I have come across some great leaders in my working life, but equally, there have been some very poor ones. Which begs the questions… What makes the difference? What are the qualities of a good leader? How do people become effective leaders?
The Liberating Leadership® programme, developed by Dr Derek Biddle and Ali Stewart, carried out extensive research into effective managers to answer these very questions. They found that crucially the top-performing leaders had a commonality in their underlying beliefs and attitudes. They called this mindset “high challenge – high support.”
Leaders who follow this mindset are able to push for better performance, whilst providing support at an equal level. They will be direct with individuals about poor performance and explicit in their expectations. Many leaders would rather give woolly pep talks to a group, than deal directly with an issue. This often goes unnoticed by the poor performer and only leads to demotivate other employees. If you want to improve your skills in managing performance issues, request your free Performance Navigator from the Liberating Leadership programme.
Jack Welch, one of the greatest leaders of his time, said “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” As a great leader, your role is to develop your team so that they do the right things and become the best they can be, even if that may mean that team members might move on to bigger and better things.
As a college lecturer I found it so disheartening when I heard lecturers making flippant statements about their students along the lines of “this class just doesn’t have the ability”, “student ‘X’ doesn’t want to be here” or “they didn’t achieve anything in school, so they are never going to cope here”. The lecturers were creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for those students. The term for this phenomenon, coined by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobsen in 1968, is the Pygmalion Effect. Of course it is not just students that this phenomenon applies to.
What makes a good leader?
One of the concepts of the Liberating Leadership® programme is that of expectations theory. Put simply, the theory states if your expectations are high, you will get high performance but if your expectations are low, you will get low performance.
Successful leader-developers put the Pygmalion effect into positive practice by always having high expectations of their people’s ability to improve and grow.
Successful leader developers also utilise the second concept from the Liberating Leadership® programme, that of reinforcement theory; catching people doing something right, instead of only paying attention when things go wrong. I am not talking about once a year at appraisal, but continually looking out for improvements in performance and marking them with positive feedback, within the moment. It’s not easy, it takes time and effort, but like anything you’re trying to nurture and grow, it takes time. But the results are worthwhile.
The award-winning Liberating Leadership programme supported by extensive research has shown this is proven to work, with businesses experiencing the following positive results…
- Lower sickness and absenteeism
- Increase in staff retention
- Boost in individual and team morale
- Reduced recruitment costs
- Improvement in projects and tasks being completed on time
- Quickly getting to the root cause of people’s problems
What kind of leader are you?
What is your attitude about the people you lead?
- Do you believe that everyone is capable of great things, given the opportunity? or
- Do you believe that some people just don’t have what it takes, no matter what?
- Have you considered how your negative beliefs about someone actually affect their performance?
- Are you limiting your people?
The 2 attitudes that are core to the Liberating Leadership® programme are…
- Positive Regard – is the ability to view an individual as a good person, regardless of the behaviour they are displaying. It is having belief in, and respect for, the other person.
- Genuineness – is the ability to communicate how you feel to the other person and tell the truth about your reactions to their behaviour. In NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) terms, it means practising immediacy by being direct and honest, regardless of how difficult the conversation might be.
Liberating Leadership® has a set of practical competencies, and processes to follow, which focuses leaders on delivering a high challenge/high support culture. It develops these characteristics of positive regard and genuineness which, along with high expectations and reinforcement of positive behaviours, creates an environment of high performance.
If you want to be remembered as a great leader, or you want to develop your leadership team to enjoy greater productivity visit More than Motivation for more information. Please contact me about the Liberating Leadership programme or if you’d like your FREE Performance Navigator tool.
Who have you worked for or regard as a great leader? What was it that made them such a good leader to you? Leave a comment below and let me know what being a good leader means to you.