Take control of your business using tried and tested leadership skills. It is no surprise that businesses operate in a very unpredictable environment. By applying key leadership skills, which can be enhanced by leadership coaching, you can pro-actively take control of your business even in difficult economic climate.
Your choice of leadership skills will be influenced by the context in which your business operates and your business priorities. In this blog we will explore some of the key skills being vision, communication, self-management, emotional intelligence, decisiveness, listening and political awareness.
Whatever you do, always start with the big picture. This outlook provides you with the foresight needed to develop and apply tactics to respond to changes in your business environment. Therefore, rather than spending countless hours on day to day operations, you should be preoccupied with the businesses that are moving in and out of your community; changes to State and City legislation and the implications for your business. In addition, changes to technology, practices and policies which might influence the competitiveness of your goods and/or services.
Assuming you know what is happening in your external environment and you developed an appropriate response to the same, it is necessary to effectively communicate your vision to others. Before you bring out the fog horns, give some thought to your communication style. Why is this necessary? If you fail to engage your audience when you communicate it could lead to confusion, demotivation, disengagement and dissent. With that interjection, I hear the action oriented communicator saying ‘get on with telling me more about communication style’.
Based on the work of Tony Alessandra et al, they identified four business personalities and the communication style associated with each. These are ‘director / controller’, ‘socializer / promoter’, ‘thinker / analyser’ and ‘relater / supporter’. I won’t go into too much detail about each of these now; they deserve a blog of their own. However, they suggest that your business personality has a direct influence on the way you communicate. For example if your preferred business personality is that of a ‘director’, you tend not to ‘beat around the bush’; therefore your communication is often direct and to the point. As a result, you could be perceived to be uninterested in what others have to say and insensitive to people / relationship issues. Although this approach focuses attention where you want it to; the bottom line, it does not effectively engage those who desire a more interactive style of communication.
One of the most effective approaches for eliminating negative perceptions, including that outlined above, is self-management. This involves using your awareness of self, that of others and the reality of the situation to manage yourself. This requires a high level of emotional intelligence, made popular by the work of Daniel Goleman, which is the capacity to recognise and manage your emotions and that of others in any given situation. It is appreciated that effective leadership requires meticulous planning and preparation. However, these should be balanced with effective self-management.
Even when faced with circumstances over which you have no control; it is essential that you are decisive. In fact, there are those who would argue that decisiveness is fundamental to your credibility as a leader. In practice, this requires you to use logical evaluations (facts and figures) as well as unconscious reasoning (gut-feeling) to make decisions quickly and effectively. Combined with sound judgment, you are well on your way to taking control of your business.
It is always surprising to me that some people perceive listening to be a soft-skill. Those of us who are involved in coaching and ‘listen for a living’ will tell you that there is nothing soft about it, it is hard work. Listening is a business critical skill which is an essential tool in every world-class leader’s tool kit. For this reason, Stephen R Covey points to the need to ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood’. This requires you to actively listen without judgment then respond accordingly. This approach facilitates two-way communication, which is a necessary criterion for building trust and confidence in the workplace.
Quick question before we wrap up, how many times have you heard senior professionals say, ‘I don’t get involved in politics, office or otherwise’? I am sure you will agree with me that this is complete and utter nonsense. Why did I come to this conclusion? Businesses operate in a political environment; therefore you are either proactively or reactively involved in politics. A lack of political awareness could lead to unproductive outcomes; therefore your best bet would be to adopt and pursue an approach that is in the best interest of your business.
How might you do this? Simon Baddeley et al points to four political roles at play in the business environment. The first is the clever fox who is very politically aware. However, their objective is self-interest. The wise owl is politically aware, acts with integrity and interested in the greater good of the company or organisation. The inept donkey is politically unaware, seeks to play the game but does not really understand the rules of the game. One might describe this as a hopeless situation. Last of all the innocent sheep, politically unaware but seeks to act with integrity; metaphorically speaking a ‘lamb to the slaughter’. Rather than avoid politics, you would be encouraged to pursue the strategy of the wise owl, get involved and collaborate to facilitate win-win situations in your business environment.
To conclude, sound leadership skills such as vision, communication, self-management, emotional intelligence, decisiveness, listening and political awareness are critical to your success as a leader. Frequent application of these skills will increase your confidence and ensure you are in the best position to take control of your business.
What stood out in this blog for you and why? Let us know in the comments.