We all want to be great leaders and get the best out of our teams. Because strong leadership makes great teamwork happen. And awesome teamwork means better results.
Strong leaders inspire their people to perform, and at the very top of their game. It’s about “rallying the troops” to be the best they can be.
Leadership development resources often use military analogies to explain the role of proactive, strong leadership. Because the principles are the same. The corporate world can be thought of as a battlefield. Each individual plays an important role in completing the company’s mission. Strategic thinking and effective communication turns goals into actions. Teamwork makes it all possible.
In business, as in the military, great leadership is never more important than during periods of turmoil and upheaval. Effective leaders can support their teams through times of change and help them navigate tough business challenges to come out on top.
Brent Gleeson, writing in Forbes, says this starts at the top. Senior leaders, in business or the military, must remain “calm under pressure, communicat[e] effectively, provid[e] resources and remov[e] obstacles.”
The benefits of strong proactive leadership
A proactive approach to strong leadership has a huge impact on employees’ attitudes toward their roles, how well they work with each other and the effort they put into the organisation.
Leadership development – like effective communication, embracing a digital mindset and promoting core company values – is always worth the time it takes. These are the sorts of strong leadership skills that will prepare you to lead your team through organisational highs, lows and transitions.
Change is the only certainty in business, particularly now. As a result of the digital revolution, organisations worldwide are facing significant changes. 70% of these change initiatives will fail without solid leadership and an effective change management strategy to tackle employee resistance.
Change management is a leadership skill you need to add to your skillset. In order to lead organisations through any kind of transitionary period, a deep understanding of how to manage change is critical.
5 leadership development tips: How to be a strong leader
1. Hone your business story to take people on a journey
What does storytelling really mean in a business context? Filmmaker Andrew Stanton likens it to joke telling. “It’s knowing your punchline, your ending. It’s knowing that everything you’re saying from the first sentence to the last is leading to a singular goal.”
Honing your company’s story (including vision, mission and culture) will ensure that all your staff are communicating the same message, they’re on the same page. They know where they’re going, what they’re trying to achieve and how to get there.
As a leadership development skill, business storytelling is a great way to engage with teams and involve them in the business journey. Get started by downloading our updated Storytelling in Business eBook.
2. Master communication to engage and inspire people
Mastering communication has a number of business benefits. It can help you to grow your business by engaging external stakeholders. But it can also help you to motivate your team.
Communicating with authority and presence is an art form; some leaders naturally have the ability communicate to inspire and have a positive impact. But the good news is it’s a skill that can also be taught.
Basing your communication on the principles of your business story will make what you say more meaningful and persuasive. So take the time to hone your story first.
Remember, effective communication is a core component of successful change management. It will allow you to lead dynamically, counter employee resistance and motivate action.
3. Embrace change to stay agile and relevant
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” This quote is all over social media. And in fact, it applies really well to leadership development. Great leaders embrace change. They embody change. In doing so, they can lead by example through periods of transition.
“Business demands fluidity,” writes Abigail Phillips in Entrepreneur. This requires leaders to embrace change and take risks. The business landscape will never be as it once was; it’s constantly evolving. You must embrace new skills, technology and ways of thinking to stay not only relevant but competitive.
Put simply, says Phillips, “if you’re not ready to lead change then you’re not ready to lead full stop.”
4. Create the right culture to motivate your team
This is about more than just staff perks, though they shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s about creating a work environment that allows employees to feel nurtured, creative and valued.
Your company culture is about much more than some bean-bag chairs and a Friday drinks trolley. It’s about shared values. It’s “the way we do things”.
Writing in Fast Company, Kevin Gibbons calls it “the intangible team spirit” that makes employees feel “part of something worthwhile.” It’s what motivates soldiers to go into battle and it’s what inspires great teamwork between colleagues. I call it your business story. Learn more about developing your story here.
5. Foster trust and safety to encourage loyalty and focus
Soldiers go into battle because they trust their leader. They feel safe (or as safe as they can in a combat situation) in the knowledge that their actions are based on their leader’s sound judgement.
Gleeson explains that a team that feels safe and supported “will do everything in their power to execute their responsibilities,” going above and beyond to achieve company goals. This makes your team a powerful resource.
If you’re serious about being the best leader you can be, spend some time on your leadership development and ask yourself, are you doing these five things? Your competitor is asking themselves the same question. And while any leader can focus on cultivating trust and a mindset that embraces change, it’s your business story that is unique, inspiring and safe in times of change. So download the Storytelling in Business eBook today to begin your journey to better leadership.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their leadership skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.
Erica Bagshaw is an entrepreneur, Executive Coach and Co-Founder of The Colin James Method® and Inner Profit Pty Ltd a vibrant leadership development company in Australia. She has spent the majority of her career growing and developing close client partnerships. She loves sharing her expertise on the perfect pitch.