April 14, 2021

Personal Leadership

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personal leadership
Photo by Danka & Peter on Unsplash

Personal leadership is at the core of my new project, StoryLeader™. My premise is that in a world where effective leadership is more of a team sport, great leaders are the kind who work to develop their teams with good leadership qualities of their own. Let’s talk about which leadership attributes will help the most, and how being a leader means growing even more leaders along the way.

A Change In Leadership Styles

One change since the COVID-19 pandemic is that team members must work much more independently, especially as more people work-from-home (WFH). Personal leadership is the art of training up your team and empowering them. The goal for those teams is to operate as leaders from within their role while still supporting the greater structure of the organization. An effective leader is now one who motivates and encourages the unique strengths of her team and seeks a collaborative experience to grow team capabilities.

Communication Skills for Leaders

The core of communication is a mix of clarity, brevity, participation, and empathy, with a topping of keeping the objective central to the experience. That’s a lot. Let’s walk through it:

  • Objective-minded – always communicate from the mindset of the goal you seek to accomplish.
  • Participatory – communication is a more-than-one sport. The best communicators don’t only know how to speak. They know how to listen, and how to bring a sense of being valued to the other person or people in the interaction.
  • Clear – clarity is so vital to good communication these days. Attention spans are shot. Be very succinct in what you’re asking.
  • Brief – brevity is more than the soul of wit. Teach your team the “one topic per email/message” Practice reviewing messages to see if they could be shorter. Make it an okay thing to point out how to tune up brevity.
  • Empathic – communication is about understanding the feelings behind the mindsets of everyone involved. Businesses (most especially b2b) never talk about this. Which is why they’re rarely as successful as they want to be with communications.

None of this just appears magically for your team. To inspire personal leadership around communication, articulate what you want for the team, and encourage constructive reviews of communications whenever possible. Practice wins this.

Collaboration as a Team Sport

If bosses teach effective leadership skills around collaboration, colleagues learn to work towards group success instead of individual contributions alone. Collaboration promotes blending strengths and weaknesses of a team. If Jeremiah loves taking meeting notes, let him. If Imani is your most charismatic team member, and she loves leading client calls, make that her core. Build your team not to be repetitive replacement parts, but instead a team of experts in their core skills, and then work on cross-training. Second only to communication, collaboration is a great place to encourage strong leadership behaviors.

Configuration: Reshape Every Space

One important leadership trait is to break free of the “factory assembly line” mentality of decades past. I’ve said it in different ways in several of my most recent posts. Developing leaders need to feel a sense of ownership of their environment. Bosses must value their team’s approach and contribution to these projects as well. Look at this as further empowerment and a way to find comfort around their place in the organization’s value.

The idea of configuration is the concept that everything we observe isn’t what it has to be. Put the chairs where you want them. Take the clock out of the meeting room. Get ready… Let the team pick some of the software the team uses. (Yikes!)

If you’re going to lose language like “subordinates” and stop worrying about being a “motivational leader” and instead work on growing a team of transformational team members dedicated to helping your organization win.

Chris Brogan runs StoryLeader, a training program for leaders and growing personal leaders alike. Combining communications, collaboration, and configuration as the core of leadership training, Chris teaches the three major types of business storytelling tools available to teams, and points to a way to approach the challenges of recovering lost business and leading distributed teams in a post-COVID 19 world.

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