The Act of Leadership - Dan Haesler - E-Book

The Act of Leadership E-Book

Dan Haesler

0,0
14,99 €

Beschreibung

Unlock your true leadership potential with this insightful guideIn The Act of Leadership, acclaimed leadership and performance coach Dan Haesler shares the insights, techniques and habits you need to thrive, professionally and personally. By combining real-life case studies, cutting-edge research and incisive coaching techniques this one-stop leadership playbook will help you better understand yourself and the people around you, so you can be not only the leader you want to be, but the person your people need you to be, both at work and at home. As a leader, you might know exactly what you need to do, but might be less clear on how to do it. You might know you need to have that difficult conversation, but you're less sure about how to have it. You might know you need to hold your team accountable, but don't know how to do it in a manner that builds authentic engagement rather than mere compliance. The Act of Leadership goes beyond the theory. It is a coaching playbook designed to empower you to be the leader you want to be, and the leader your people need you to be. Most books explain the what and the why of leadership, The Act of Leadership demonstrates the how. Author Dan Haesler takes a coaching approach, combining his years of experience as an educator and now coach to corporate leaders, elite athletes, teams and educators, to reveal the pivotal insights and enlightening case studies that will help you to define what kind of leader you want to be and understand how to get the best out of yourself and the people around you. You will also discover the importance of thinking and acting mindfully, instead of on autopilot, using the mindfulness techniques used by World Champions to lead in the moment, sharpen your intent, and increase your impact. * Let go of your biases and assumptions and see the impact we have on others * Take on a growth mindset to help you deal with setbacks and mistakes * Create organizational change that actually succeeds, by engaging people so that change is done with them not to them * Adopt a coach-like mentality and use engaging techniques to improve your day-to-day interactions with the people you lead With each chapter serving as a one-on-one coaching session, The Act of Leadership will help you create new habits and new ways of being in your day-to-day leadership, as well as life away from work, that are actionable, immediately. Perfect for leaders, professionals, educators, and athletes seeking to improve their own performance, The Act of Leadership will also earn a place in the libraries of anyone hoping to improve the lives of the people who follow them, in business, sport, and life.

Sie lesen das E-Book in den Legimi-Apps auf:

Android
iOS
von Legimi
zertifizierten E-Readern

Seitenzahl: 309

Bewertungen
0,0
0
0
0
0
0



Table of Contents

COVER

TITLE PAGE

COPYRIGHT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

INTRODUCTION

Part I: THE ‘YOU’ STUFF

Chapter 1: IS THIS BOOK FOR YOU?

So, what makes a good leader?

‘With great power comes great responsibility’

What's your style?

Chapter 2: BE MINDFUL, NOT MINDLESS

From Jerusalem to Jericho

It's not character but conditions

The two minds: Red and Blue

Do nothing — just breathe

Chapter 3: ASSUME NOTHING

Blindspot bias

Curse of knowledge bias

False consensus bias

Confirmation bias

Sunk cost fallacy bias

Spotlight effect bias

Fundamental attribution error bias

Halo effect bias

Dunning–Kruger effect

Group‐think bias

Chapter 4: HOW TO TURN IT AROUND

Fixed mindset

Growth mindset

Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs)

Part II: THE ‘YOU AND THEM’ STUFF

Chapter 5: MUM WAS WRONG

What we get wrong with 360 feedback

Chapter 6: MAKE IT SAFE TO STUFF UP

Is it safe here?

Chapter 7: LESS CARROT, LESS STICK

Understanding engagement

The carrot‐and‐stick approach

We need more tribes

Chapter 8: BE BETTER AT CHANGE

Vision: what, why — and crucially — why now?

Skills: the how

Incentive: what's in it for me?

Resources: what's this going to take?

Plan: ideas and good intentions are not enough

Chapter 9: LESS IS MORE

Delegation isn't just giving people more work to do

Be present

Be curious

Be useless

Part III: THE TACTICAL STUFF

Chapter 10: STOP WASTING PEOPLE'S TIME

Do we need to meet?

Chapter 11: NO MORE SH!T SANDWICHES

Et voilà, a sh!t sandwich

Chapter 12: HAVE LESS DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS

But what if ‘difficult’ conversations needn't be difficult at all?

CONCLUSION

Appreciate the nature of change

Set better goals

Stop relying on willpower alone

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

INDEX

END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT

List of Illustrations

Introduction

Figure I.1 the sweet spot of coaching

Chapter 4

Figure 4.1 bridging the gap

Chapter 5

Figure 5.1 development of a leader

Figure 5.2 the sweet spot of coaching

Chapter 6

Figure 6.1 where Stephanie's team want to be

Figure 6.2 where Stephanie's team actually are

Chapter 7

Figure 7.1 leaders must build the pillars of SDT on a foundation of belongin...

Chapter 8

Figure 8.1 Knoster, Villa and Thousand's pillars of organisational change

Figure 8.2 my logic and evaluative thinking model

Figure 8.3 using Appreciative Inquiry to help your team build

the bus

Chapter 9

Figure 9.1 Eisenhower's matrix

Figure 9.2 how to use Eisenhower's matrix

Figure 9.3 Eisenhower's matrix in action

Chapter 10

Figure 10.1 this flowchart will help answer that question, ‘To meet or not t...

Chapter 12

Figure 12.1 we drift apart over time

Figure 12.2 my version of Raymond's Accountability Dial

Conclusion

Figure C.1 the sweet spot of coaching

Figure C.2 the stages of change

Figure C.3 goal tree

Figure C.4 goal tree template

Guide

Cover

Table of Contents

Begin Reading

Pages

i

v

vi

ix

x

xi

xii

xiii

xiv

xv

xvi

xvii

xviii

xix

xx

1

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

43

44

45

46

47

48

49

50

51

52

53

54

55

56

57

58

59

61

62

63

64

65

66

67

68

69

70

71

72

73

74

75

76

77

78

79

80

81

83

85

86

87

88

89

90

91

92

93

94

95

96

97

98

99

100

101

102

103

104

105

106

107

108

109

110

111

112

113

114

115

116

117

118

119

120

121

122

123

124

125

126

127

128

129

130

131

132

133

134

135

136

137

138

139

141

142

143

144

145

146

147

148

149

150

151

152

153

154

155

156

157

158

159

160

161

162

163

164

165

166

167

168

169

170

171

172

173

174

175

176

177

178

179

180

181

183

185

186

187

188

189

190

191

192

193

194

195

196

197

198

199

200

201

202

203

204

205

206

207

208

209

210

211

212

213

214

215

216

217

218

219

220

221

222

223

224

225

226

227

228

229

230

231

232

233

234

235

236

237

238

239

240

241

242

243

244

245

246

247

248

249

250

251

252

253

254

255

256

257

258

259

260

261

262

263

264

265

266

‘Warm, witty but, above all, wise. This book is an essential companion for any leader.’

Damian Hughes, visiting Professor of Organisational Psychology and Change, author and co-host of The High Performance Podcast

‘Sometimes it takes someone to simplify the chaos, to not just open one’s eyes, but open one’s mind as well. In a world ever changing, and ever challenging, Dan Haesler not only inspires you to be the best version of yourself, but provides the space and steps to become that for yourself and your team — especially if you think you’re at the top of your game!'

Anna Meares OAM, Dual Olympic Champion

‘Haesler provides a no-nonsense, plain talking guide to modern leadership that draws from the best and most current sources in psychology and management sciences. Whether seeking to build new skills, tune up old ones, or just searching for a dose of inspiration, this is a book both managers and leadership coaches will deeply appreciate.'

Professor Richard M Ryan, Australian Catholic University, co-founder of Self-Determination Theory

THE ACT OF LEADERSHIP

A playbook for leading with humility, clarity and purpose.

 

 

 

 

DAN HAESLER

 

 

First published in 2021 by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd

42 McDougall St, Milton Qld 4064

Office also in Melbourne

Typeset in ITC Cheltenham Std 10.5pt/14.5pt

© John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd 2021

The moral rights of the author have been asserted

ISBN: 978-0-730-39211-8

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (for example, a fair dealing for the purposes of study, research, criticism or review), no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, communicated or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission. All inquiries should be made to the publisher at the address above.

Cover design by Wiley

Front Cover Images: © Twins Design Studio/Shutterstock, © MicroOne/Shutterstock, © Ron Dale/Shutterstock

Disclaimer

The material in this publication is of the nature of general comment only, and does not represent professional advice. It is not intended to provide specific guidance for particular circumstances and it should not be relied on as the basis for any decision to take action or not take action on any matter which it covers. Readers should obtain professional advice where appropriate, before making any such decision. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the author and publisher disclaim all responsibility and liability to any person, arising directly or indirectly from any person taking or not taking action based on the information in this publication.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Haesler is a coach whose work focuses on creating happier, healthier and higher performance. He works with people in order to help them, and the people around them, to thrive, professionally and personally.

Dan’s clients include elite athletes and Olympians, as well as corporate and educational leaders.

As a Director of Cut Through Coaching, he is also an international keynote speaker and regularly presents alongside industry leaders, Olympians, Oscar winners and even His Holiness the Dalai Lama on topics of leadership, mindset, motivation and peak performance.

Before moving to Australia, Dan was also once identified, on national TV, as the UK’s worst housemate.

Having improved (most of) his domestic habits, Dan now lives in Sydney with Samira, their two children, and a beagle called Mr Pickles.

His website is www.danhaesler.com

He’d love to connect with you on Twitter or Instagram at @danhaesler.

Or if you prefer your social media a little more professional, you can also find Dan on LinkedIn.

INTRODUCTION

If I were to ask you what a good leader looks like — what they do and how they make you feel — you could probably tell me. Hopefully, you could name one or two from your own experience in the workplace.

And, if I asked you what a poor leader looks like — what they do, how they make you feel — again, you could tell me. You might be able to name one or two or three. You might even have nicknames for them, and you certainly have stories about them that you tell at dinner parties to try to one-up your friends about who has the worst boss.

So why is it that in the cold light of day — perhaps when you're perusing the business section of a bookstore — you're quite clear on what good leadership is, but in the heat of the day-to-day running of your team, you sometimes act more like the leader people talk about at dinner parties?

As I see it, there are three main reasons for this, two more easily addressed than the other one:

Reason #1:

You're human. (This is the one that's not as easy to address but we'll give it a go in

part I

of this book.)

Reason #2:

The way you've learned about leadership. (We'll address this in

parts II

and

III

.)

Reason #3:

You don't do the things you've learned. (This book is aimed at helping you to take what you've learned and use it to form new habits and — where necessary — break old ones.)

A few years ago, I was contracted by the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia to present workshops to teams across the competition. My workshop was aimed at exploring the leadership links between mindset, habits and performance. It was deliberately designed so that players, coaches, the backroom staff and players' partners could relate to it either on a professional or personal level.

A couple of days after presenting to the playing group at one club, my phone rang. It was the club's welfare officer telling me how the senior players in particular had loved it, and that the captain of the club — a State of Origin representative — was insistent that the club engage me over the course of the upcoming season. In the skipper's words, what I had presented was ‘the missing link’, and now the welfare officer was telling me, ‘Mate, we want you to ourselves. Not only is this stuff good for them as people, the boys think this will give them the competitive edge over the rest of the comp. Mate, we want to put you in one of our jerseys!’

I was buzzing.

However, the head coach — who didn't take part in my session — wanted to meet me to get a better idea of what a long-term engagement might look like. As with most NRL clubs, the head coach is the one whose opinion really matters, and I was excited as I drove to the club's headquarters because I'd heard this coach was a good guy, and, given the captain and senior players were keen to get going, I felt this meeting could only go well.

I set about explaining some of my approaches, and the rationale behind them — as I'll do in this book — and why any group of people striving towards a common aim might benefit from adopting them. The club's director of football, a highly regarded member of the rugby league community, was also in the meeting and I was pleased to see him nodding along enthusiastically as I made my pitch. ‘How well is this going …’, I thought to myself.

Not that well, as it turned out.

My pitch did nothing to convince the coach that his captain, senior players or the welfare officer were on the right track. As he told me politely, ‘Yeah, I know all this, and besides, we already have someone come in once every couple of months or so to do this stuff with us’.

That was essentially all he said, and it was clearly the conclusion of the meeting.

I left somewhat deflated, and it was no surprise when, a day or so later, the club's welfare officer contacted me to confirm what I already knew. The club wouldn't be pursuing the engagement.

I found myself reflecting on two things in particular over the ensuing days:

Had I been too confident walking into that meeting?

Was I less than fully prepared?

Yes, and yes. Not a great combination.

I had assumed that because the senior players and the captain were championing my work, the coach would recognise the obvious benefit to having me on board.

I was annoyed because I pride myself on my preparation and attention to detail, so to walk out of this meeting knowing that I hadn't prepared for anything other than a positive outcome rankled me somewhat.

But I was also left reflecting on what the coach had said.

He had told me he knew it all and that they do this stuff every couple of months with someone from outside the club.

Now, this isn't meant to sound like sour grapes, but he was illustrating the three reasons for poor leadership that I highlighted above:

Reason #1:

He's human. As a human, his confidence in knowing everything perhaps blinded him to the effectiveness or otherwise of what they were currently doing.

Reason #2:

The way he'd learned about leadership. The manner in which they ‘did this stuff’ — once every couple of months or so — spoke to how he viewed learning as an event, and only when an external consultant came in.

Reason #3:

He doesn't do what he

has

learned. The coach would have learned that it's important to listen to his people, but clearly he wasn't doing that because he seemed oblivious to the fact that his players and back-room staff clearly didn't feel they were ‘doing’ it anyway.

 

Leadership isn't something you know. It's something you show. All the time.

 

Had I been better prepared for our meeting, I might have been able to articulate these counterpoints in a respectful way.

But I wasn't. So I didn't.

Six months later the coach left the club amid claims he had ‘lost the playing group’.

Obviously, I can't say that if I'd been engaged by the club things would have been different. There would have been numerous complex issues at play. But in the years since that meeting with the coach, I've spent many hours working with all kinds of leaders from all walks of life, and I've had the opportunity to reflect on some of the reasons people don't quite have a handle on what it means to lead their people.

I've researched the common challenges that leaders deal with as well as the theories that explain why these challenges arise. And crucially, I’ve worked side-by-side with leaders and their teams as they’ve applied these theories to enhance how they live and work. I’ve also had the chance to dive deeper into these theories with some of the world's prominent leadership thinkers for my podcast, Habits of Leadership.

So I'm now offering the world another leadership book.

To be honest, I'm not even sure the world needs another leadership book. I said as much to the publishers in our earliest conversations, and then realised that's probably not the way to go, so I quickly changed tack.

In the traditional sense, this isn't another leadership book. Most books delve into one or two concepts, while this book seeks to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. It's a playbook of sorts for busy leaders with an emphasis on helping them create new habits and ways of being in their day-to-day leadership that they can enact almost immediately.

Here's a rundown of what you'll gain from reading this book.

Part I tackles the ‘you’ stuff and asks you to reflect on ‘How do I show up?’ We'll explore some of the challenges you face as a leader purely because you're human:

Chapter 1

 — ‘Is this book for you: what kind of leader do you want to be?’ We'll look at some of the common archetypes used to describe leaders and leadership. You'll be challenged to reflect on which — if any — apply to you, and then I'll suggest some of the key takeaways each archetype might get from the book.

Chapter 2

 — ‘Be mindful, not mindless: the importance of being in the moment’. We'll explore some of the fundamental human behaviours and responses that govern our day-to-day experiences. You'll be encouraged to consider mindfulness as the act of being deliberate and intentional. As much as we'll discuss breathing techniques, we'll keep circling back to the notion of acting mindfully as opposed to mindlessly.

Chapter 3

 — ‘Assume nothing: the biases that stop you from seeing what's really there’. We'll look at some of the common cognitive biases that affect how we view ourselves and our impact on others and address recency bias, blind spot bias and the Dunning–Kruger effect. My goal in this chapter is to encourage you to rethink how you think.

Chapter 4

 — ‘How to turn it around: why you don't learn from your mistakes’. We'll address mindset and how it affects behaviours, particularly around changing your behaviour as a result of a setback. This chapter serves to set up

parts II

and

III

of the book by encouraging you to adopt a mindset that will allow you to get the most out of the subsequent chapters.

Part II addresses the ‘you and them’ stuff with a particular focus on creating and nurturing environments in which you and your team do your best work:

Chapter 5

 — ‘Mum was wrong: it really

does

matter what others think of you’. We'll seek to address why 360 feedback surveys rarely have the impact they should. As well as making the case that the best people to determine whether or not you're an effective leader are the people you lead, you'll be presented with a practical and attractive way to engage more of your team in your leadership development.

Chapter 6

 — ‘Make it safe to stuff up: high performance is not about being perfect’. We'll help you understand the essential — and often missing — ingredient needed for teams to be high performing. This chapter will help you create a culture where risk-taking is welcome, and where there is permission for candour that allows all voices to be heard and valued, particularly when those voices are saying something you might otherwise not want to hear. Yes, you read that right.

Chapter 7

 — ‘Less carrot, less stick: find out what makes people tick’. We'll delve into the world of motivation and explore how leaders can empower the people they lead to authentically engage in their work.

Chapter 8

 — ‘Be better at change: stop trying to get people on the bus’. Exploring why attempts at individual and organisational change fail, and how you can avoid the common roadblocks, we'll tackle the issue of employee engagement through the lens of organisational change.

Chapter 9

 — ‘Less is more: create space so your team can step up’. We'll seek to help you become more coach-like and empower you to empower your teams. This chapter will show you how to adopt more coach-like techniques in your every day interactions, rather than just viewing coaching as an event.

Part III addresses the tactical stuff and provides advice for dealing with some of the most common challenges you might face on a day-to-day basis in your role as a leader:

Chapter 10

 — ‘Stop wasting people's time: running meetings that matter’. We'll discuss how to run better meetings so you actually get stuff done. Nuff said.

Chapter 11

 — ‘No more sh!t sandwiches: have better 1:1s with your team’. We'll explore why most of the feedback we're given doesn't have the cut-through the feedback giver was hoping for. Ever since school we've ignored or made excuses as to why we don't need to take on feedback. This chapter challenges the common wisdom around the popular Positive — Constructive (or Negative) — Positive approach to giving feedback (because it's wrong) and introduces you to the SHIFT model for conversations. This tried and tested model can be deployed in virtually any setting and enacts all the theory of the previous 10 chapters.

Chapter 12

 — ‘Have less difficult conversations: start having adult ones instead’. We'll tackle one of the most common challenges we see for leaders: the art of having difficult conversations. The two main reasons people don't like these are that they ‘don't like confrontation’, or they ‘don't want to risk the relationship’. This chapter will demonstrate that even conversations that are related to poor performance need not be confrontational and can indeed build relationships. It will give you the skills to empower people to take more ownership of their work.

Conclusion

 — ‘Roger Federer still feels the need for a coach, and you don't? Seriously?’ We'll encourage leaders to reflect on the fact that change is hard, and even the best in the world in their field usually have some form of coach. For those leaders not keen to engage with a coach, I provide a reflection and action journal to help leaders identify their growth opportunities and then self-regulate in their attempts to embed their learning from the book in their own context.

Each chapter is intended to serve as a coaching session that identifies a prevalent leadership challenge and explores the research, theories and concepts to help you address it.

You'll be encouraged to reflect on what each chapter means for you personally and for your team by using my coaching lens of developing insights, intentions and actions. Too often we might only develop one or two of the three necessary elements to effect positive change. Figure I.1 identifies how each of the three elements of coaching interplay.

Figure I.1:the sweet spot of coaching

The sweet spot of coaching is where we use insights to motivate ourselves to act in a new way that — as well as improving performance — provides us with new insights. You'll be asked to reflect on the sweet spot at the end of each chapter.

Importantly, each chapter also presents an Act of Leadership where I'll share with you some strategies and techniques, and, in some cases, even words to say in order for you to enhance your leadership to address the challenges you've identified.

For those readers who want to dig deeper into specific concepts, this book serves as a gateway to other books written by world-leading authorities in their field. I've been fortunate to chat with the authors of some of these books and so I am able to add further insights as to how their thinking informs the practical strategies I use every day with clients.

You can also access tools, further resources and full podcast interviews with the people mentioned in the book at www.actofleadership.com.

With the exception of the publicly recognisable identities in this book, the names and nature of the organisations of the people I use in the case studies have been changed in the interests of privacy.

Had I written this book three years ago, I might have left a copy with the coach for him to flick through. And maybe — just maybe — he might not have lost the playing group.

Or his job.

Part ITHE ‘YOU’ STUFF

 

Let's explore some of the challenges you face as a leader purely because you're human.

Chapter 1IS THIS BOOK FOR YOU? What kind of leader do you want to be?

This chapter in a nutshell

you'll be introduced to the prominent thinking around leadership theories and styles

you'll be encouraged to reflect on how these theories and styles inform your own leadership

you'll see how each chapter of this book might help you enhance your leadership

Why this book? Why not the one sitting beside it in the store?

Maybe it was given to you as a gift and you're still trying to figure out whether or not to invest your time in it.

I get it. You're busy and you don't want to waste time reading a book that isn't for you.

This chapter aims to help you ascertain whether or not this book can help you, and how it might be able to help you. You will chart a course that might mean you flick through some chapters quicker than others, or you might choose to focus on just one or two.

In essence, I'm trying to write in a similar manner to how I coach. Not everyone needs everything, and some people only need one thing.

Rather than tell you something, let me start by asking you something:

What kind of leader do you want to be?

Take some time to ponder and then note down what comes to mind for you.

 

 

 

 

Look back over what you wrote and consider:

Was it easy to answer that question? Were you surprised by how much space I gave you to write in? Did you need more or less space?

Did you focus on your ability to deliver results based on products, processes, policies or people?

Did you compare yourself to others? Are they well-known leaders or people only you would know?

Does anything you wrote surprise you?

Have you ever taken time to consider this question before? Where have you gone looking for answers? Have you looked for a mentor or just taken your lead from what you think the organisation expects?

How satisfied are you with your leadership right now? If you had to score yourself out of 10 as a leader, what would you say? How inclined are you to want to improve?

By the way, if you scored yourself a 10, this is either not the book for you or (more likely) absolutely the book for you, and I'm guessing perhaps it was given to you as a ‘gift’.

Now, unlike at school when teachers used to lie and tell you, ‘There are no right or wrong answers’, when it comes to these questions — and, in fact, any questions I ask as a coach — we're not as interested in the notion of right and wrong as we are in what it brings up for you. What new awareness can we create from asking questions of ourselves and each other? Coaching, and this book, is not a test. Your answers and thoughts are yours alone, and a piece of paper can't judge, criticise or hold anything against you, so whenever I ask you to reflect, the more open and honest you can be with yourself, the more awareness you'll create.

Are you up for that? If so, this might be the book for you.

But back to that question, ‘What kind of leader do you want to be?’

In my experience, some people struggle to answer the question because they haven't spent enough time thinking about leadership and what it really means to be a leader.

In many cases, people find themselves in a position of leadership by default or as a result of being the last one standing, or in some cases being tapped on the shoulder and given an opportunity. I've lost count of the number of people I've worked with who say, ‘I never set out for this’, or ‘I've never thought of myself as a leader’. Sometimes this is an indication of their humility, but more often than not it's also a sign that they've unexpectedly found themselves in a position of leadership and they're still trying to figure out whether they're really the right person for the job.

Impostor syndrome is quite common among leaders. But fear not, as the host of Coaching for Leaders, Dave Stachowiak says, ‘Leaders aren't born. They're made’. With a little reflection and deliberate action, you can become a great leader.

When working with a leader for the first time, rather than jumping straight into what needs to be fixed or improved, I’ve found it useful to spend time exploring the concept of leadership with them, and I’d like to do that now with you.

So, what makes a good leader?

Several well-established theories and styles form our understanding of leadership and what good leadership looks like. While I won't cover them all here, it might be helpful to dig into some of the more prominent ones at this point.

For a time, it was thought that leadership was something that either came naturally or didn't. You were either a natural leader or you weren't. It's likely that this thinking came from observing the natural world, in which we recognise leadership in a pack as being dependent on inherent traits; the biggest, strongest or loudest tend to lead while the smaller, weaker, quieter tend to follow. And while that might work in the Serengeti, the Daintree rainforest or the local woodland, we've come to learn that leadership is more nuanced in the human world of organisations and communities.

That said, it can be useful to analyse the apparent traits that successful leaders possess. While not being an exhaustive list, some of the more immediately recognisable domains are knowledge, emotional intelligence, confidence, honesty, energy, likeability, decision-making skills and flexibility.

The question here is, to what extent do you feel you can improve in each of these domains? If you adopt a mindset of ‘you either have it or you don't’, you're susceptible to what Professor Carol Dweck describes as a fixed mindset. We explore this in more detail in chapter 4, but broadly speaking if you hold a fixed mindset around your leadership you believe that if you're a natural leader there's no need to learn how to improve, while if you believe you aren’t a natural leader, then you see no point trying to improve. You simply don't have what it takes. The good news is that there is also the growth mindset approach. As I mentioned, we dig into what mindset theories mean to you in chapter 4, but right now I'd like you to take a moment to consider the domains I listed above and what they mean to you.

And remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

Knowledge

How much do you know about your organisation, its processes, its people and its objectives? Is more knowledge always a good thing for you in your position? Do you know enough? How might you find out more about the things you really need to know?

 

 

 

 

Emotional intelligence

To what extent are you able to recognise and manage your emotions? Are you able to recognise and manage the emotions of others? To what extent can you read a room or do you sometimes miss the mark?

 

 

 

 

Confidence

How confident are you in your abilities? Does this confidence alter if you compare your confidence in your ability to get a job done versus your confidence in getting others to do a job? Are you confident in front of a group or do you have the confidence to handle tricky conversations in 1:1 meetings? How do you distinguish between confidence, ego and arrogance?

 

 

 

 

Honesty

How honest can you be with your people? Do they need to know everything? Is transparency always a good thing? Is there such a thing as being too honest? Do you ever find yourself needing to be ‘brutally honest’ with someone?

 

 

 

 

Energy

How much energy do you bring to your role? What kind of energy do you bring? Do you brighten or energise a room by walking in, or do you get the impression that maybe you brighten up the room by walking out?

 

 

 

 

Likeability

How important is it to you that your people like you? Do you ever find yourself holding back on an issue because of your desire to be liked? Alternatively, is your mantra, ‘I'm not here to be liked. I'm here to do a job’?

 

 

 

 

Decision-making skills

Are you quick to make decisions or do you like to take your time? Do you need the input of as many people as possible or do you trust your own instincts? Do you have the confidence to pull the trigger, or do you tend to second-guess yourself and procrastinate?

 

 

 

 

Flexibility

Is it your way or the highway? Or do you tend to sway with the group? Do you hold fast on a decision or will you consistently review it? Do you give your people free range to go about their work however they wish or is there a strict process you ensure they adhere to?

 

 

 

 

Now let me guess your answer to each of those domains.

‘It depends.’

And of course, it depends.

In fact, ‘It depends’ is usually my answer to any question I get in a workshop or Q&A panel. And while some people might feel this is a cop out, rather it recognises that life is complex and often issues have nuances that are context specific and temporal.

The important follow-up questions are, ‘On what?’ and then ‘And how does that play out?’

Taking the hits for the team

I was consulting with Anya at a large manufacturing company. Over the previous 12 months she had been promoted internally to the position of National Head of Sales. She was now in charge of the people she used to work side by side with.

I'd been invited in because Anya hadn't made as productive a start in her new role as her boss would have liked. That's not to say she was doing a bad job — in fact, her team thought she was very supportive and an improvement on her predecessor. So what was going on?

We were having our initial chat over a cup of coffee at a café in the industrial park where the company was based. Leaving aside Anya's choice of coffee — decaf soy latte (not a coffee) — we got off to a good start. I heard about how Anya had been the first in her family to go to university and she seemed to be on a fast track to corporate success as her appointment to National Head of Sales had come relatively quickly. In fact, as we chatted I started to think that perhaps I was meeting with the wrong person. Anya was sharp, knew her stuff and seemed to be pretty well-read on leadership.

But then it happened.

Just as we were wrapping up and I was preparing to go back to the organisation to find out who I was supposed to be working with next, Anya received a text message. She let out a sigh and said, ‘Sorry Dan, are we done? I have to get back. Something's come up and the team can't sort it out without me. It's the third time this year!’

It was February.

I tagged along as Anya went back to rescue the situation.

Evidently, a customer had a complaint and Anya was the only one they wanted to speak to.

On the surface not such an issue, but what transpired was quite interesting.