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How to step up and be a leader

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If you were with me yesterday, I have been explaining that there are six key areas that help these people to succeed as leaders in a more sustainable way. Yesterday, we set the scene by looking at Identify and Balance, the first two of these areas; today, I want to look at how you can build on these foundations and step up to become a great leader. 

Empowerment

For you to step up as a leader you need to be able to delegate to and empower others. To do that what you need is trust; trust in yourself that you can be an effective leader and trust in others that they can deliver so that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Trust allows you to Stop Doing and Start Leading. It’s too easy to find yourself involved in the detail, doing things yourself and not empowering people. The result is that you get frustrated and dissatisfied with your performance and so do the people around you. 

Because experts are good at managing projects I ask them how they would treat empowerment if it were a project. They can then easily define the key stages of an empowerment process to make it work for both themselves and those whom they are empowering.

Development

I have learnt that when empowerment and trust are low, task-focused leaders often spend very little time on developing their people.

One of the reasons why this lack of trust happens is that many people, especially those who are experts in their field, get their motivation from delivering results through their own efforts. However, as a leader, you have to continue to learn and grow and for that to be possible your people have to learn and grow. As a leader, this becomes your responsibility. When you learn the skills to develop people, create the time and space to grow and develop yourself it has a compound effect on you, your team and the business. 

Can you see why continuous learning and growth are key to getting out of the Expert Syndrome and becoming a great leader.

Engagement

Your employees/team are only one of your stakeholders, albeit a key one.  As a leader, you have several stakeholders and you need to engage them all to deliver positive outcomes. Engagement is the fifth key required to become a great leader.

Many of the leaders I work with do not yet know how to take the time to stand back and map out their stakeholders. They haven’t been given the skills to develop a stakeholder engagement strategy so they can clarify who they need to collaborate with and how to do that. 

Ask yourself whether having the skills to develop a strategy to engage your stakeholders will help you to be more effective as a leader.

If you are an expert or specialist offering advice to internal and/or external stakeholders, a prerequisite is your technical or professional expertise. To move up to higher levels of engagement requires adding to that expertise by developing your interpersonal and influencing skills. This includes developing your emotional intelligence, your ability to build relationships based on trust and rapport, to flex your leadership style and, in particular, to use a coaching style. All of these skills contribute to effective engagement. They are supported by developing a win-win mind-set. 

Change

In addition to mastering the first five key elements to becoming great at the why and how of leadership, it is essential for all leaders to be great at leading change. Change is the one thing that is constant in our 21stcentury world. 

There are two important truths here that will help you acknowledge this as a key part of your role as a leader. The first is that if an organisation is changing less than the environment in which it operates it won’t be sustainable. The second is that an organisation can only change when the individual leaders change! This is why being able to lead change is a vital skill for you to develop as a sustainably effective leader. 

Change is not easy and it fails more often than it succeeds. So would you agree that understanding how to catalyse change in yourself and others is an asset to both you and your organisation?

These six areas, described today and yesterday, make up the key developmental stages of transitioning from being an expert and doing everything yourself to leading.  

As a result of incorporating these stages into my leadership development and coaching programmes, I have experienced the joy of seeing leaders make this shift. When you Stop Doing and Start Leading you, like those who have already been on the journey before you will be able to thrive in your own life and help your people thrive too. You will create your own ripple effect that impacts your organisation and enhances the lives of your team, your family and everyone else you come into contact with. Being a leader is like a reverse virus, it spreads like wildfire and makes people feel great and be great.   

Sue Coyne

Stop Doing, Start Leading- How to Shift From Doing The Work Yourself To Becoming A Great Leader, by Sue Coyne is available from Amazon, priced £15.99.


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