Well, you’re in the wrong caper

by | Jun 4, 2019

My personal experience is that leadership finds you wherever you are now, with your current knowledge, understanding and take on the world, but never leaves you where it found you. You will be changed, different in so many ways that you will sometimes struggle to relate to the pre-leader version of yourself.

I remember a well-known, somewhat outspoken AFL footballer, who after his retirement coached his own team at state league level. I heard him speak after two years in the role where he made the statement:

“I’d like to publicly apologise to every coach I’ve ever had”.

Leadership had changed him, finding him somewhere and leaving him somewhere else, and if this statement is anything to go by, a more humble and generous place.

Given the multi-faceted challenge of leadership, and its transformational forces, how do you ever know where you are at, and where you are going? The sense of disorientation can overwhelm, and with that, the fundamental need to remain grounded.

There is an element of ‘buckling-in for the ride’, understanding that any effort to control the many factors that will forge their independent and often random paths, is exhausting, and mostly futile.

In response, I often hear leaders speak of the need to find ‘clarity’, and my first thoughts are “Well, you’re in the wrong caper”. There will always be complexity and complicatedness in ambitious organisations, hence the need for quality leadership to match this challenge.

While clarity is an ideological objective, there are means by which you can frame this ambiguity with a simple and powerful routine to maintain leadership confidence and a way forward.

It only requires the setting aside of an hour or so every month, a fresh journal page and a pad of sticky-notes. At the top of the page, add the date, and then write down the simple question:

“Do I believe in my people, and do they believe in me?”

Then set about answering it.

Take a 360-degree view, taking the perspective of all of those with whom you require their belief- your Board, your boss, your fellow leaders, staff, and even your customers and key stakeholders.

Ask yourself: “What makes me believable?”

A check list could include questions that relate to your leadership values, such as:

  1. Do I do the right thing, even when it’s hard?
  2. Have I established well-understood performance expectations, and do I model these?
  3. Am I consistent in my personal attitude and motivations?
  4. Is the strategy that I have played a role in developing convincing, compelling and well-articulated?
  5. Are my actions consistent with my words?
  6. Do I have the technical expertise and experience to be believable in this domain?
  7. Am I building track-record to support my assertions?
  8. Etc etc

For each of the questions, ask yourself:

  1. What are two of my behaviours that support this value?
  2. What are two of my behaviours that are outside of this value?
  3. What is a leadership habit that will allow me to embed this value more consistently?

Having completed this, then ask the same questions of your people, those who you lead. Should any of the answers be negative, or if you are questioning individuals, then ask yourself:

“What am I doing about?”

At the end of the exercise, you should have added a few new tasks to your ‘to-do list’, encouraged and energised that you can make the impact as a leader that was the very motivation for taking the role in the first place.

These are the leadership habits and routines we teach and coach as part of our designCEO offering, remembering:

A high-performance culture requires high-performance behaviours, which are established via high-performance habits.

I always enjoy the opportunity to talk all things culture and high-performance, and the development of leaders to achieve it.

Here are three ways to start the ball rolling:

  • I teach and coach an integrated leadership performance system utilising sophisticated learning models and systems garnered from elite team sport, ideal for leaders who are committed learners, who understand the responsibility of leadership. To learn more, please arrange your FOC 30-minute leadership telephone consult to discuss your personal, team or organisational challenges or aspirations, please use this link.
  • Participate in our next one-day Leadership Masterclass which I personally facilitate. It is a sophisticated, intimate and practical leadership intensive for aspirational leaders, both current and emerging. To learn more, and to register, please use this link.
  • Sign up for the “More to the Game” weekly email, and receive a copy of my “What business can learn from football” White Paper. The emails are short leadership reflections, no more than a couple of minutes to read and we will always treat our communication with respect. Please use this link.

You can also contact me at cameron@designCEO.com.au and let me know how you think we can work together.

Cameron Schwab
CEO & Founder

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