Here are six simple, impactful, actions which I often start with when helping leaders, teams and individuals shift their cultures, build better products and outpace their competitors.
Walk the floor
You can’t lead without knowing your colleagues. Personal relationships are central to developing good communication, gaining understanding and nurturing respect. It’s straightforward to do – you just have to make the time out to do it. You’ll learn a lot about what’s really happening, that’s for sure. What you do learn should go on your backlog of things to improve. Little and often works best.
Top tip: You don’t need the whole leadership team to go around like a wolf pack – split the task up amongst all the leaders. It’s great if leadership team members visit departments they’re not in charge of too – so you can all get new perspectives to share.
Lead by example
You simply can’t expect people to do things that you wouldn’t do yourself. If people perceive that it’s one rule for you and one rule for them, then they will quickly become disillusioned and you’ll have a fractured culture start to grow – that’s hard to reverse long term.
Top Tip: Support those around you by being available, focussed and fair.
Make it visible
Transparency builds trust. We know that teams brave enough make their work visible have better quality conversations, are more likely to hold each other to account and have a more collaborative dynamic. The same is true of leadership teams.
Top Tip: Some of the best leadership teams I work with have the courage to get their action/improvement backlog up on the wall, visible to all so their colleagues can see what they are working on. It’s always well received and builds trust.
Leaders are decision makers – if you’re not making decisions then you’ll be perceived as a group of managers. Entrepreneurial spirit can be fostered through leadership to meet outcomes and crushed by top-down managers who are obsessed with targets.
Top Tip: Make meetings ‘outcome focused’, not time-based. Start every meeting with a clear objective of what you are trying to achieve. Try to reach that outcome quickly, then move on. Embody your leadership style by being a team of purposeful, informed decision makers – not a group, of ineffective, responsibility-shy, social loafers.
Chief Impediment Remover
The best leaders to work for are those who understand they have the ability to make problems go away. Those who see themselves as the Chief Impediment Removers, who listen to their colleagues and use their unique position to make their lives easier, will reap the rewards of a happier and more productive workforce.
Top Tip: Actively listen more than you speak. Your advice is probably good, but not if you have misdiagnosed the problem someone is trying to alert you to.
Support each other
What defines a good team is being able to support each other to meet a common objective or goal. Find time for yourselves as a leadership team. If your teams are expected to inspect, adapt and continually improve, you should expect that of yourselves. It’s healthy to listen and understand how to support one another.
Top Tip: Whilst you may have your disagreements when you meet as a leadership team, you need to put politics to one side. You are all leaders within your organisation and you should be able to act and speak as one.