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Five strategic insights for great business leaders

people-woman-coffee-meeting - Mary-Rose McLean

Leadership is a process. No-one is born a great business leader. Rather, the finest leaders understand that they will always be learning new things. They also take control of their own improvement.

This is why there are frequently many managers, but few great leaders, in most businesses. Business leadership in the 21st century business landscape needs skills that are very different to those of traditional organisations in the past. As the work environment, workforce and business landscape continues to evolve, so must business leaders.

Five strategic insights for great business leaders

Here are my strategic insights for great leadership. Step up your game and take control of your business destiny.

  • Lead by coaching your team

Many managers are promoted to the lead position thanks to their track record. In most cases, they became a top performer in a certain skillset, and are eventually put in a position of leadership.

However, when these promotions are decided, their actual leadership skills are forgotten about. The ability to lead people, to coach and mentor them and to inspire them into being the best version of themselves, is not something that automatically comes with analytical or business sales skills.

In 2019, every manager needs to also lead. This is because they have a direct and meaningful impact on every person in their team. Engaging people is more than half the battle when it comes to leading a team or a business as a whole. Without true engagement, you will never achieve the results your team is capable of.

Despite this, research data shows that only around a third of the employees in a typical business display true engagement. The other 66% are either passively working, or totally disengaged.

And while optimistic communications teams may want to believe that every single employee in a business are genuinely connected with the company’s values and vision, this isn’t always the case. In most cases, they are more engaged with their direct manager, and take their cue from their attitude.

All of which means coaching is one of the key skills for managers today, and to achieve this, they should take control of their own training. If you are a manager that wants to lead, invest in your own development.

  • Be flexible yet controlled

Flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly is another key component of a great business leader. The trick is to be able to truly adapt when necessary, without causing confusion among your team.

It’s all about clearly communicating the ‘whys’ behind any strategic changes you put in place as a leader or manager. Effective leaders always align decisions with the overall vision, and change course when absolutely necessary. When they do, they take on board team feedback, co-develop a new plan and make sure everyone is aligned before steps are taken. This way, everyone understands the change and why it’s happening. The result? True engagement and a smooth transition.

  • Adapt your communication style according to each team member

Communication is obviously a huge part of being a leader. But there isn’t just one way to communicate. What works for you, may not work for the person you need to get through to.

There are three main areas of communication:

  1. Understanding the motivation of the person you’re communicating with.
  2. Using emotional intelligence.
  3. Having the ability to adapt to different communication styles for different people.

As a strong business leader, you should take time to understand what truly motivates your team members. This will help you understand each of their preferred communication styles. To do this successfully, you need a cultivated level of emotional intelligence.

  1. Foster a culture of accountability

Accountability is the most important cultural influence over any team. And accountability starts with the leader of the team. Leaders and managers should take total ownership for any team failure and take the opportunity to communicate effectively.

Everyone in the team must fully take on board the overarching guiding principles for true accountability to work. This includes expectations of team behaviours and clear guidelines of accountability. If these elements are in place then morale is improved, engagement increases, and this leads to greater performance.

  1. Build trust from the top and bottom of the scale

The final piece that needs to be in place for a truly successful team is trust. And trust must go both ways – from the top down, and the bottom up. Leaders must be able to trust their team, but equally, team members must feel trust in their leader.

Research shows that high-performing businesses can demonstrate a high level of trust in leadership, thanks to consistency, communication and leaders following through.

Trust impacts two main areas of any organisation: employee engagement and productivity. These should be looked at by business leaders as both an opportunity and a challenge, and building trust is a key strategic need for all organisations.

Use these five strategic insights to evolve your leadership style and remember to never stop learning.