Home > Leadership > Being the best leader you can be

Being the best leader you can be

As I sat down to write this post about ‘what you need to do to be the best leader you can be’ the words of a fellow coach came to mind – that many leaders think it’s about what they do; they don’t realise that it’s about who they are.  And I think that’s the key.  When you’re in a management or leadership position you are expected to produce results but you do that through your team and it’s who and how you are (your behaviours) that will motivate them to produce their very best work.  And why is it important to be able to engage your team and be a great leader? – well, the Macleod report Engaging for Success (2009) found that

–Highly engaged employees try 50% harder and perform 20% better
–Disengaged employees cost UK business a staggering £40 billion pa!
What a waste of  human potential as well as money, which is in short supply at the moment – you don’t need expensive computer systems, streamlined processes etc – you just need to make the most of the people you have!

How to be…..

thinking intensely

So one brilliant place to start is to think about people you have worked for, or are working for, who have really brought out the best in you – or even to think about those who have demotivated and constricted you because if you turn that on its head it will tell you how you do want to be. My first simple lessons in management style were when I was a student doing temporary jobs in my holidays – I quickly saw how I did and didn’t want to be: the manager who asked rather than told and always said please and thank you motivated me far more than the one who would never even say good morning as he passed my desk on the way to his office.  In fact I got quite obsessive about how rude he was and put a lot of my time and energy into that rather than the job! Another great manager for me was one who disagreed with a decision I had made and rather than just overturning it we sat down and talked about it, discussed other options and she left the final decision to me before helping me work through how I could change it while still maintaining face.

The best thing about finding role models in others is that you can ‘pick and mix’ – because no one is perfect! the manager I mention above also set very high standards and expectations which I know helped me to achieve things I never would have thought possible.  However, she also didn’t know when to stop pushing and sometimes the stress would become too much for myself and other colleagues and we felt unable to say ‘enough!’

So think about those around you with the qualities and behaviours you admire – observe who and how they are and talk to them about their management philosophy – especially to find out the values and beliefs which drive them.  And of course the beauty of this is that it’s something you can do all through your career as you face every new challenge – think about who would be a role model in how to handle it.

Another fantastic way I’ve found of being the most excellent leader you can be is to be your best self – so more on that next time….

In the meantime what has worked for you in becoming a great leader (or what hasn’t!)?  post your comments below

Photo © memo – Fotolia.com

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  1. Tom Yohannan
    June 29, 2011 at 19:28

    Interestingly I have on more than one occasion given private (English) classes to executives who treated me very cordially while clearly being rude and abusive with their own assistants or secretaries. Nothing I could do to change that, of course, although I would go out of my way to be courteous to the assistant, simply by way of compensating.

  2. June 29, 2011 at 20:40

    Thank you Tom – wow! good for you! my take on the reason for that is that it’s about beliefs and values ie that the executives see you as a valued person who deserves respect and their assistant or secretary as someone who does not. I once had a manager who would not let me and the rest of the team contribute in the way we thought we were capable of and then one day he let slip that he thought of us as ‘slaves’! no wonder he treated us like that!

  3. Nick
    June 30, 2011 at 07:42

    I just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed your blogs so far. I love your writing style – very engaging – and the lessons are great too. Looking forward to more!

    • June 30, 2011 at 07:59

      Thank you so much Nick! it’s great to know you are enjoying them!

  4. June 30, 2011 at 09:04

    Brilliant. Thanks for all your blogs so far. They are thought provoking and very insightful. This one especially is very apt at present and brill! For me leadership has always been about encouraging, releasing, setting others free and doing that by virtue of who I am and what I am! It can be a real challenge and there are sadly many ‘leaders’ who dominate, control and manipulate. Others who simply have a picture of what they want to be but are not. Maybe they know no other way, but it is sad and very poor, for them and all those around them. I have seen some amazing results in the environments where people are true to who and what they are and teams really work in those contexts too. Thanks again. Looking forward to MORE!

    • June 30, 2011 at 09:19

      Thank you Martin – we need more leaders like you who have such positive values and really live up to them. And you have put that so eloquently!

  5. June 30, 2011 at 10:34

    Thanks so much for connecting Michael. Some great stuff on employee engagement on your blog!

  1. June 30, 2011 at 05:07

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