You may consider yourself to be a great or, on the contrary, a bad leader, though in both cases absorbing new information in the field and following experts’ advice is a must if you don’t want to run round in circles. We’ve compiled a list of the most interesting and motivating articles about leadership published this summer.
In this article, Marc Zao-Sanders explores the necessity of managers’ awareness of their leadership skills level. According to him, very often leaders’ managing skills are even worse than those of their reports. The thing is that managers don’t accept they have gaps in their profession-related knowledge and abilities. It negatively affects the team’s productivity and the company’s state of things. So, first and foremost, keep in mind that your employees are following you, so why should they spend their time on self-development if you don’t?
Kevin Daum suggests following Pablo Sardi’s idea of self-analysis. Its core is asking yourself several questions to get a handle on your leadership ability: “What have I done so far?”, “What can I improve?”, “What motivates me?”, “Am I consistent in my ideas, thoughts, and actions?”. So, the script is as follows: firstly analyze your previous experience and performance, then think what things you can change to be a better leader. After that try to unleash your leadership potential by considering why you’re doing what you’re doing and why you’re good at it, and finally check out if your words follow your thoughts and if your actions follow your words.
In this paper based on the insights by Brenda Ellington Booth and Karen Cates for KeloggInsight, the authors suggest four ways to develop self-awareness as an essential quality of a good leader. Self-awareness is what you think about yourself as well as knowing your strengths and weaknesses. It’s a core for self-development. Self-assessment is a must but besides assessment tools, you should appeal to your co-workers to help you with that in a form of a face-to-face discussion. Remember that feedback is just an assistant in your self-development, not a guidance. You shouldn’t try to win somebody’s favor, it’s up to you to analyze other people’s opinions about you and make your own conclusions. When having difficulties in some situations, analyze the cause of your reactions and concentrate on your strengths. And last but not least is self-reflection. Consider not only your previous experience but dwell upon upcoming events and analyze your probable behavior and how you can adjust it to be more productive in the future.
Followership: Opposite but Equally Significant
Leadership in general and the development of leadership skills are a rather threadbare topic. Nobody is focused on the opposite side of this dyad – followership. A person cannot be a leader without followers, those who share their worldview and want to be a member of their team. The rest of the articles in our list are dedicated to followership as a cornerstone of leadership.
In her article for The Balance Careers, Susan M. Heathfield claims that a leader people want to follow should be confident, knowing, trustworthy, and caring. Employees should clearly see the direction their leader is showing them, the goal, and of course the final destination of this journey. If there’s no clarity, there’s no drive.
Junko Sasaki and Ken Royal examine followership stating that engagement cannot be dependent on a manager. Only an employee is in charge of their followership engagement. To ensure this, a leader should treat the followers properly: not like children but as personalities capable of making their own choice. One of the main tasks for a good leader is not only to tell what to do, but also explain how and why to motivate an employee and make them sure they want to do this and understand the reasoning for this.
The idea that a leader is “nobody” without followers is also supported in John Hall’s article. You should discuss your vision, your ideas, values, and goals with your team to make them know you appreciate their opinion and let them see you keep your word. Besides, be sure your leadership aims are in line with your employees’ needs. Otherwise, their followership will be enforced, not voluntary.
Nichar Chhaya dwells upon leadership through the prism of followers’ fears in his paper for HBR. The main belief is that efficient teamwork and followership are impossible without credible relations between a leader and employees, and thus, good results seem to be unreachable. The author suggests observing your teams’ behavior and reactions without asking direct questions that can make them feel awkward. Initiate discussions unrelated to your job with your team to let them feel free to express their thoughts even if they’re opposing your views. By showing your own vulnerability (everyone makes mistakes) and readiness to accept your faults you’ll make your followers more confident. Their attitude towards you will become more trustworthy and your relations will be less strained. Isn’t that what you need?
Have you ever thought about the other side of the leadership story, the followership? Do you have any rules for interacting with your followers? Share your ideas in the comment section.