Oct 23rd, 2020
Are you a great technical manager or an inspirational people leader? Do you find it really, really effortless to be able to get people to come along on the journey with you, or do you have to sometimes drag them, kicking, and screaming?
Hi, this is Grant Herbert, VUCA Leadership and Sustainable Performance Coach, and today, I want to continue our conversation around the shifts that we need to make to be a leader in the 21st century VUCA environment by talking about the area of people leadership.
So over the last few weeks, we've unpacked already two of the elements of VUCA Leadership that, firstly, being our personal leadership, leading self, and that's the foundation of all leadership. We talked about the fact that leadership is not something that you do. Leadership is about who you are. Leadership is a set of internal characteristics that help you to inspire yourself and others, that help you to operate out of integrity, to have empathy, to communicate well. All the skills come out of who we are, not out of what we do.
We also had talked about the fact that, unfortunately, a lot of people think that leadership is all about getting people to do what I want them to do. So, organisations will want trainers to come in and train these soft skills, as they call them, rather than working on the areas that we've already worked on of building a foundation around the leader through self-leadership.
Then, we moved into last week talking about the professional leadership or process leadership, those practical capabilities and skills that we need to have so that we can get stuff done. We talked about the three shifts that we needed to make in that area, around our performance, around our positioning, and our productivity. So now that we've built that foundational platform, we are now ready to be able to move into that third area, which is people leadership.
There are three key areas that we need to make shifts as the VUCA leader. The first area in our people leadership is around our resilience. And our resilience is a word that we hear a lot. And right now we are needing to develop resilience more than we ever have before. That speed of change and the environment that we operate in means that if we are not building up skills of resilience, we are setting ourselves up for burnout.
How do I know that? Because I've been there, I've done that. I operated that way before. One of the key areas in our leadership that creates an environment for burnout can be in our people leadership. When we feel less than capable of leading ourselves, let alone leading others, we can operate in a way that is not sustainable. And we talked about that last week as well.
So, this shift is about going from being stressed to being strong. It's about employing mindsets and capabilities that allow us to operate as one of the leaders in our organisation that operate as part of a team, operate with people that are wanting to work with us. So, resilience is vital if we're able to be a sustainable leader in the VUCA world.
The second area, and this certainly has an impact on our resilience as well, is our relationships. Relationships are the key to leadership. How we operate with others, our interpersonal relational skills, are definitely a crucial component of the vocal leader. It's about being able to go from conflict to collaboration. It's about being able to communicate in a way that people want to listen and that they hear and they get the message and they get the vision.
It's about being able to go beyond putting out fires to creating an environment where people want to work together, where people like working with each other because they look at each other's strengths, where they're being led by someone who cares about them, who shows them empathy, but keeps them accountable as well.
So, the second area, and I do a lot of work in this area for myself and my team and the people that come to me for this type of training, is in the area of relationships. And that certainly is something that we can do some more work on. I just wanted to unpack that with you today.
And the third area in people leadership is how we now get our results. So last week, we talked about in our own professional, our own process leadership, how we can be more productive, how we can sustain our performance, how we can have skills and strategies to be able to get more done.
As a leader, we need to be able to not only get our own stuff done, we need to be able to get stuff done by inspiring and leading others to get it done for us. In fact, a better way of saying that would be to get it done alongside us. And then, the collective efforts of everybody creates the result that we want. This is about having a shift in our mindset, firstly, and then in our behaviour to go from someone who gets our results by doing to getting out results through the people that we lead.
Now, obviously, to do that, we need to be able to have a lot of capabilities and a lot of competencies around emotional intelligence. And that's why this is part of our conversation. When people feel valued and we've got our relational skills working well, when we are demonstrating and we are advocating resilience and strategies to make sure that we can bounce forward from adversity challenges that we face, that we're able to lead others through that by our own example, then we are in a much better position to lead people, to get the results that they want.
Leadership is a process. Leadership is about taking individual gifts and talents and being able to put those together to create an outcome. And one of the key areas that I'll leave you with on this one is to make sure that when we are inspiring others, inspire them with their "why", not with our own.
I remember as a corporate leader, I would go to the meeting, we would find out what it is that we had to do. And then, I would come back and go, "This is what we need to do, and this is why we need to do it." And that "why" was coupled to the organisation. And I wondered why people weren't as excited about that.
What I learned to do over the years, through some great leadership and mentorship from others, was to focus on their "why" and be able to take what it is that we had to do and break it down to each individual person in the team and go, "Well, what's in it for them when they do what their part is in this process? What will they get out of that?"
And motivating and inspiring them around that meant that, I was then able to get the results that I wanted through them, rather than dragging them, kicking, and screaming.
So over the last few weeks, we've talked about what it takes to be a VUCA leader. A leader that operates in an environment that's constantly changing, that's volatile, it's uncertain, it's complex, and it's ambiguous. And we've broken that down into the three key areas of leadership and the shifts that we need to make in each, around our personal or self leadership, around our process or professional leadership, and around our people leadership.
And I know for me that this is a constant journey where I'm continually learning and keeping up to date. And it's about making sure that we do just that. Right now, we're leading in an environment that we've never perhaps needed to lead in before.
I know in my career, in my lifetime, I've never led a team in such uncertainty. So, adapting and making shifts in my mindset and my behaviour is critical if I'm able to get people over the line at this time.
Well, that's it from me for another week. Join me again next week, when we start to unpack some of these different elements of those nine shift areas for the VUCA leader, and we go a little bit deeper and get a little bit more succinct on some of the behaviours and mindsets that we need to change. I'll see you then.