When you go to the gym, you work on different areas of your body; cardio, leg strength, flexibility, to make sure you have a base level of fitness across a range of areas.
Leadership is no different. Being given the title of leader is the same as being given a gym membership – it isn’t worth anything unless you use it. Each area of leadership needs to be toned and sharpened, just like the different areas of the body. We look at the top four leadership fitness areas and what you can do to tone them up.
Socrates famously declared humans must ‘know thyself’; a feat achieved by raw introspection. By understanding your natural leadership style, you can understand and assess your impact on others and decide where a different approach could be effective. For example, the Zenger Folkman study showed warm and likeable leaders were most effective, suggesting that democratic leaders who offer a participatory approach might have the best leadership styles. But in a crisis, you might need to switch to an autocratic style to make a quick decision that also gives your team confidence you are in control. Understanding how you work, and how that impacts the people you manage is key to knowing how to move forward effectively at different times.
Leadership strategists across the world assert that a strong leadership reputation earns you respect and greases the path of career advancement. But often people are likely to rate themselves as more likeable than their bosses, peers and team members say they are. So how can you gauge your reputation? You ask. That’s right, you solicit genuine feedback from the people you manage, and the people you report to. The very process of doing this is beneficial. Leaders who are least willing to ask for feedback are also the least liked with – you guessed it – the most willing the most liked. Hear what people have to say about you, and act on it to get ahead.
Successful leaders are also networkers. Making connections, identifying prospects and developing professional relationships beyond your own team is what sets a leader apart from a manager. Networking offers three crucial leadership development opportunities – to develop your operational skills through sound boarding, to improve your personal development by taking on mentors, and developing new business opportunities. So, get out there!
There are many ways to build and tone your leadership skills and taking part in a course is a great way to fast track your development. You wouldn’t jump on a new piece of gym equipment without getting an orientation from an instructor first – it’s the same with leadership fitness. Enrolling on a course like IMNZ’s Elevate Programme is a great way to pick up new skills and practice some of those older ones in a safe environment. You can also get feedback, develop your style, and network all at the same time.