Seven focus areas for leadership mastery
Leadership is about sharing a vision and guiding others to achieve it, as Caroline Bolderston explains.
WE OFTEN HEAR about different forms of leadership – inspirational leadership, motivational leadership, innovative leadership and leadingfrom-the-front leadership. Leadership is many things, but in essence it all comes down to this: a leader provides a pathway to help others expand their thinking, challenging their beliefs and attitudes about what's possible. Leadership allows others to own their contribution, which boosts confidence, growth and personal performance.
A master leader encourages others to contribute to improvements and innovation, guiding them to solve problems in a way that demonstrates good judgement, thought for consequences and awareness of the impact each decision has on the team.
Impactful leaders champion excellence, expect nothing but the best and are unapologetic about creating a culture around it.
The best businesses I have seen have a keen focus on leadership at all levels. Investing in and inspiring every single person on a team to become incredible leaders of themselves first creates a passionate, thriving and harmonious environment where everybody wins – not just those at the top.
Here are the seven focus areas to leadership mastery: Clarity of purpose. You cannot lead if you do not know exactly what you want to achieve and why you are doing what you do. You must start with a clearly defined vision and set of core values that drive the behaviours of the team and underpin the direction that the team is heading. This is the biggest weakness that I see in many teams and is the first area to focus on.
Outstanding communication skills. Great leaders develop effective listening and effective questioning skills. This means having the ability to hear what isn't being said, as well as being able to speak plainly and with clear intention. Demonstrating the standards for open and trusting communication is imperative.
Transparency of expectations. The strongest leadership comes with structure and benchmarks around performance. How can anyone achieve excellence without the clear framework of knowing how high to climb? Master leaders focus their efforts on building structure around detailed job descriptions and defined operational procedures and systems. This not only impacts engagement and morale, but more importantly removes the need for blame or excuses, which drives a strong culture. Culture of accountability. To truly get the best out of your people they need to know that their individual performance will be measured and rewarded, no matter what their role within the team. Recognising and communicating when values and results are on or off track is a vital part of being a master leader. Low morale or lack of enthusiasm is the direct result of inconsistency of behaviours and performance between team members. A master leader knows this and is constantly shining the light on these fundamental drivers.
Growth mindset. Master leaders understand that one of the core human needs is to be considered good enough. Your people will perform their best when they feel they are believed in and that opportunities to develop and grow exist within the business. Ensuring there are pathways for learning, skill development and career progression will keep motivation and engagement high amongst your team and ensure retention of quality people.
TRUE LEADERSHIP MASTERY IS ACHIEVED WHEN YOU GET OVER YOURSELF!
Decisiveness. Great leaders are prepared to back themselves and what they believe in. They are ruthless when it comes to making decisions to protect culture, to innovate and to implement change. Instead of rash choices, they make bold judgements by provoking thought and challenging the status quo when decisions need to be made.
Humility. True leadership mastery is achieved when you get over yourself! When you become self-aware you know that it's not about how good you are, but how great you can be at supporting and encouraging others to be amazing. Building a team of individuals whom you genuinely want to be better than you creates an outstanding environment of belonging, respect and appreciation.