Great leaders succeed by harnessing the power of both their external and internal worlds. What does this mean? Well, first of all good leaders need to understand the world in which they operate – their external environment. Factors such as: What their competitors are doing? Are there any looming technological changes? What is the general economic and political climate – any shocks out there? Even the best project launched at the wrong time can be severely damaged or even fail. An example of this timing effect is the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. Completed in 1902 as a railway hotel, The North British, it was bought in the late 1980s as the flagship of a new small luxury chain. It was closed in 1988 for a £23 million refurbishment. It re-opened for business as The Balmoral just as the first Gulf War was kicking off and world travel was severely hit by the uncertainty. After a number of difficult trading years, the hotel was acquired by the Rocco Forte Hotel Group in 1996 and has since gone from strength to strength. So brilliant idea in 1988 to renovate this classic hotel, just rotten timing in terms of launch and the impact of a major political/economic event on cash flow!
So the external is very important and so is the leader’s ability to form an accurate judgement on it. However, just as important is the leader’s internal world – by this we mean the leader’s passions, values, feelings, intuitions and mindset.
So where does this internal world start? The answer – with your values! What are your values – both personal and business?
These values must be:
- Authentic and wholehearted – in other words they affect you through and through and are not situational
- They form they why of what you do and who you are. They are the connective fibres for think, feel and do.
Measured by their impact/outcomes.
- It is also important to remember that this internal world of values can be augmented by the external – such things as the example of great leaders in history, the spiritual dimension and those we trust. In short, we need to constantly feed ourselves with good stuff so that our internal world is strong and resilient.
Then there are our thoughts! We need to be clear on our thinking patterns and where they are leading us. We need to ask ourselves do we react or do we think things out? And when we are thinking do we find it easier to think in steps or can we find solutions by what people call ‘lateral’ thinking? We also need to bear in mind that delivery will involve people – employees, customers and third party. How will they react? We need to involve others in our thinking process. Also remember that intuition is part of the thought process.
Emotions also come into the leadership equation? It may be helpful to think of emotions like the dashboard of your car. Lights and warning signals that come on when something is wrong – not necessarily with you, but your environment. Indicators that should not be ignored, they are meant to lead you to ask why? Do my feelings relate to external factors or do they result from internal challenges? Also remember that emotions may be both positive (warmth, satisfaction, happiness, passion) and negative (anger, sadness, frustration, guilt, shame, anxiety). Passion is one of the most important positive emotions linking desires to purposeful direction. Emotions are the catalyst that will make or break the fourth key component of leadership – relationship.
The fourth component of leadership is relationship. Even for positional leadership organisations, such as the armed services, leaders who can build relationships are the most effective. The polar opposite to the armed services is a voluntary organisation where leadership is totally relational. We tend to build our relationships upon the relational images that we develop as we grow from child to adult. Hence the importance of good parenting and other role models like teachers. This healthy growing process also helps us to form effective boundaries. As a result, whilst we relate well we are also able to see that our team members are separate from us – they have their own lives, their own way of doing things and relating. With relationship we can build/engender such benefits as:
- Accurate appraisals
- Enthusiasm and commitment.
Clearly then, leadership is a growth process. It is intentional. It is transformational. Being able to observe yourself objectively and also take feedback from others is key. Nor is leadership an event in a day. It is an ongoing process of little steps leading to giant changes.
Contact us for details of our “Leadership Inside Out Programme”.