Leadership Styles V Leadership Skills

leadership styles V leadership skills

Mike Gaffney breaks down the differences between leadership styles V leadership skills and discusses the role both play in helping business owners and team leaders build successful organisations. As Mike points out, it is essential for leaders to understand their audience but it’s also crucial for leaders to be honest and authentic and avoid ‘putting on an act.’

Leadership Styles
Goleman describes different leadership styles – coercive, authoritative, democratic and so on – but essentially there are two factors that will affect business leaders and their leadership style. One is the circumstances of the situation they find themselves in. For example, if you’re a sports coach leading the under 10 football team, the leadership style you would use with children of that age would be very different than the style you would use with senior county players. So you have to choose a leadership style that is appropriate to the audience you are working with.

The second thing is that individual leaders need to understand their own capability in terms of the audience they are best suited to. Again, using the sports analogy, you could have a coach who is brilliant with leading adult teams and achieves great success with them but is utterly lost when it comes to leading children’s teams. That coach just doesn’t know how to connect with the young team and of course it happens the other way around too. Some coaches may have a real flair for inspiring and leading youth teams but may not be effective at all when faced with an adult team. So when it comes to leadership style, the leader must first understand the audience that he or she is dealing with and they must be confident that they can successfully apply their leadership style to that particular group.

The Authentic Leader
To put on a style that isn’t you would be a huge error because the most important quality in any team leader is authenticity. Employees want to see a leader who is comfortable in their own skin and is genuine and is not putting on an act. People would rather have a leader who may stumble from time to time but they are genuine, rather than a leader putting on an act that they think their audience wants to see. People can see through that act, they know it’s false and that’s when the leader loses all credibility.

So authenticity is crucial for any leader, be it a business owner or team leader within an organisation.

People generally warm to those leaders who are natural and comfortable in their own skin. They don’t necessarily have all the answers and don’t pretend to. Showing ourselves to be human is actually a strong trait in a leader. If you hear employees describe their boss as a ‘natural leader’ they are describing someone who is really just being themselves and not putting on an act.

Leadership Programme DublinSo a great leader doesn’t have to fit the stereotype of a tough military-style, aggressive leader?
Not at all, that’s more of a lazy media representation of leadership, like the brash and egotistical image of Donald Trump. Actually, the most effective business leaders out there are the quiet types who are working away in the background making their businesses work successfully and they don’t seek any attention for what they do. These are people with a genuine passion for what they do; people who have built up a level of expertise in their field and who are very persistent. Employees and management teams trust them. The tribe will always follow somebody that they believe will help them create a better future for them and their family. They will trust the company where they feel safe and feel they are looked after in terms of confident leadership, promotion opportunities and job security.

Leadership Skills
There is a tendency, particularly in the corporate sector, for people to think that the more senior the leader the more skills they have to have. So if you are junior manager you might be good at communication or good at time management, but as you move into more senior roles you must be a great communicator, be more charismatic, be an influencer or have high motivational skills. The list of requirements gets longer and longer. When you look at it, the Richard Bransons of the world and some politicians, haven’t got a wide range of leadership skills. They have a few skills that they are particularly good at. For example, Richard Branson is a great PR man and he just keeps applying that skill to promote the Virgin brand.

Take great political leaders like Harry Truman. He was an ordinary man from Missouri and he is widely considered to be one of America’s most effective presidents after Washington and Lincoln. He was a farm boy, never went to college but he had honesty, integrity and decisiveness. He trusted his instincts and people trusted his leadership.

His skill was in taking ownership of his responsibilities and handling the pressures of the office of president.

He listened well to others but he also trusted his gut and made clear decisions. OK some decisions he made were wrong, he didn’t always get things right. But he led his team and he wasn’t afraid to make difficult decisions or to accept responsibility for the outcomes. There are a lot of people surrounding the leader who would not like to be in that position of having to make the tough decisions. The pressure and responsibility of that would be too much for many people.

Interview with Des Kirby

Learn about our leadership programmes for team leaders and business owners

Contact Us Today
Tel: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie

Advice For Those Who Want To Be Leaders

advice for those who want to be leaders

We already know many of the stereotypical characteristics of great business leaders. Many of them have become engrained in our culture such as steely determination, fearlessness, aggression and being thick-skinned. Most people don’t think of ‘detachment’ or ‘reflection’ as major features of effective leadership.

Here, Mike Gaffney discusses these skills and offers leadership advice for those who want to be leaders and how to get others to buy into your vision.

Reflection – create the space to reflect on your vision
Most business owners have a good grasp of the daily activities and operations involved in running their business. The first challenge for them in becoming more effective business leaders is to create the space where they can step away from the phrenetic daily activities and spend time reflecting on where the business is at, and where it needs to get to.

What is their vision for the future of the business? How well do they understand that vision and can they explain it in basic terms to their staff, customers or investors?

Detachment – remain focused on good business decisions
The second challenge for a business leader is to develop a strong sense of detachment. Too many times we have seen business owners become too emotionally attached to the idea of the business, or the location of the business. They see their own self strongly reflected in the success of the business. This lack of detachment can adversely affect their ability to make logical decisions regarding the direction of the business.

Whether its economic contraction or some particular loss-making component of the business, or addressing individuals in the organisation who are not making the required contribution, they get stuck in the mind-set that says ‘this is the way the world is.’ They then just try to work harder and hope they can work their way out of their problems.

Don’t delude yourself into thinking something’s working when it’s not, or you’re gonna get fixated on a bad solution – Elon Musk

To be a good leader it’s important to develop a sense of detachment and be able to look at the business in a cold logical way to determine what is working and what isn’t and then make decisions accordingly. Once a sense of detachment has been developed there is really only one more thing the business leader needs to address.

Clarity of vision – your team needs to know where the business is going
Clarity of vision is vital for bringing others with you as you move your business forward.

You need to provide clarity in terms of where the business is heading and how you are going to achieve your stated aims. Unlike management, business leadership taps into the emotional triggers of the team as to why they want to invest their time and energy in the organisation. The reason clarity is so important is because people will only follow the leader who can provide that clarity of vision and knows where their future is. People want answers to pertinent questions regarding the future and your vision for the organisation.

If I stay with this company…

• Can I develop myself through further training?
• Will there be opportunities for promotion?
• Can I earn more money?
• Will I be able to put my kids through college or pay off my mortgage if I stay with this company?
• Is this company clear about its vision and how it’s going to achieve it?

You don’t have to be an amazing public speaker but you must explain your vision in a way that will make sense to others, so keep it simple – Mike Gaffney

Sometimes the leader thinks they have to be great communicators or be a good ‘people person’ and sure, they are good skills to have. However, even without those skills, if the leader can provide a simple, clear and compelling vision that the whole team can understand and see the merits of, both for themselves personally and in terms of the organisation, then that’s your primary job as a leader achieved.

You don’t have to be an amazing public speaker but you must explain your vision in a way that will make sense to others, so keep it simple. When they get it they are more likely to buy into that vision.

Think of leadership as a skill set to be learned
There is a lazy logic that exists which says ‘leaders are born, not made.’ Well, rocket scientists are not born with their knowledge; they are made through years of study, training and development. So too with doctors, engineers or any professionals. There are management training programmes for junior, middle and senior managers.

Why should it be any different with business leaders?

Leadership is another skill set, another perspective on how to act and engage with the world around you and yes, it absolutely can be thought and it can be learned. A lot of effective leadership hinges on the old Greek philosophy of self-awareness, or as Socrates said – know thyself. Great leaders develop a high level of self-awareness.

They know when they are having a direct positive impact on others and when they are just getting in the way and need to step back, and that takes real awareness and discipline.

 

Interview by Des Kirby

Learn more about our leadership development programmes.

 

Contact Us
Tel: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie

What Leaders Really Want From Managers

what leaders really want from managers_

What do business leaders really want from their managers? Is it their experience, knowledge and technical expertise?

These things are important to business leaders when they recruit people into management positions. However, as LEAP MD Mike Gaffney explains, what leaders really want from managers more than anything else is for them to take ownership of the role of manager. That means making decisions, fully committing to them and taking responsibility for outcomes.

Take Ownership
The number one requirement that leaders want from managers is for managers to take ownership for their area of responsibility. That means making decisions, dealing with the problems in their area and generally getting on with the job and delivering on their department’s objectives.

They want managers to stop looking over their shoulder waiting for approval or permission to make decisions.

Be Decisive
There is an old saying that many leaders and managers are familiar with that goes ‘seek forgiveness rather than ask for permission.’ It’s vital to be decisive in your role as manager. Make a decision, look for the best outcome and if it works out great. Make sure you are able to explain why it worked out so it can be replicated.

If it doesn’t work out, dust yourself down and get on with the job because that’s your responsibility.

Commit to your decisions
So ownership is by far the biggest requirement leaders are looking for from their managers, but decisiveness is also a crucial factor. Another key element leaders look for is commitment. This simply means following through on decisions and ensuring that others in the team do the same until company objectives are met.

If managers take ownership of their area, and are prepared to make clear decisions and fully commit to them, then leaders can focus more of their time on doing what they do best – leading the business.

So the message for managers is clear: take ownership, make decisions and fully commit to them.

Leadership Programmes

What if I as a manager make a decision and it turns out to be the wrong one?
If the decision goes wrong for the manager, it might cause problems and tempers may get frayed because of it. However, you are actually delivering on what you were hired to do. You were hired to take responsibility for a particular area of the business, to make it work as best you could.

If you don’t take ownership or you can’t make decisions then you are not managing.

You might get into hot water from time to time but when things cool down, the smart business owner will realise that you took ownership and you were decisive and you fully committed to your decision. They can see you are doing your best as a manager. That shows you take responsibility for your actions and that is something they can respect.

What they cannot respect is a lack of responsibility or ownership of decisions and outcomes.

So managers should be prepared to make decisions rather than asking the business owner for permission all the time. The outcomes may reveal that the role was beyond you and your capabilities but it won’t be because of a lack of commitment or indecision on your part.

 

Interview by Des Kirby

Explore our Leadership and Management Programmes here

Contact Us
T: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie

How To Manage Pressure When You’re a Team Leader

 

how to manage pressure when you're a team leader

The Scottish writer and historian Thomas Carlyle once said ‘no pressure, no diamonds.’ When under pressure some business leaders may indeed perform better and get better results, but some leaders respond to pressure by isolating themselves. To understand how to manage pressure when you’re a team leader I spoke to LEAP’s Mike Gaffney. Here he explains how internal and external support systems are vital for helping the isolated leader to manage pressure and avoid isolation.

Mike many business owners find themselves isolated in their position as leader. How does this happen and what can be done about it?
The first thing to recognise is that isolation is very common amongst business leaders, and can be a very tough and debilitating place to be. It can become the natural habitat for the business owner, because they feel they have to make all the decisions. They have the responsibility and pressure of keeping the business afloat; they have to keep a brave face so their staff don’t worry even more. They have to deal with making sure everybody gets paid and bills are paid and banks are kept at bay. They can’t turn to the people working for them because they feel they are the leader, and they have to have the broadest shoulders in the organisation. This can create considerable pressure that can be more debilitating than the actual issues they are facing.

Should business leaders share the pressures they face with the team around them?
Yes is the answer… they should. As the owner, if you walk into the office with an angry face because you just had a meeting with the bank, and things are not looking good, you may not say anything to the team but they know that things aren’t good. If you bottle it up and internalise the problem, you are just making things worse for yourself and the team around you. There is a phrase that goes ‘people prefer the certainty of pain to the pain of uncertainty.’ If your team are not sure about the difficult situation they are in, and what they need to do to get out of it, that uncertainty creates a greater fear factor. It immobilises thinking and immobilises action on the part of the team. It’s not a new idea. Jim Collins said it in Good to Great, ‘confront the brutal facts.’ It’s important to get your team on board and the starting point is to let them know how serious the situation is. Once people are included in addressing the problem you will be amazed how quickly they commit to developing solutions, and driving those solutions through and making them work.

So the right response to isolation is to be more open with your management team?
Yes, but not just open internally with your team but also be open externally. You need someone outside the company, be it a mentor, a coach or another business leader you respect, to meet up with and discuss the issues and challenges you’re facing. Because it’s your business, you can become isolated and you’re also too attached, too familiar with it. That familiarity will blindside you about the way you think about the business. You think ‘that is how I run the business, that’s how we do things around here.’ Someone independent of the business might say, ‘hang on, that may have worked two years ago but the world has changed.’

The second thing about having someone external to talk to is they can help you to start thinking more strategically as a leader. Consider what the business can do and what opportunities are out there. In any time of significant change, be it significant growth or significant decline, there are always opportunities. But you need to have your antennas up and be receptive to what those opportunities are.

Is participation in a leadership programme a sign of the openness and external support you speak of?
It’s more focused than that. Yes they have to be open to internal and external support, but they also have to be willing to recognise their own fallibility and their own requirements. Nobody can do everything; business leaders need help to address the areas where they are not great, so really it’s about reaching a level of maturity. In the leadership programmes we deliver, it’s about helping the owner to find ways to be more effective. A big part of that is opening up and collaborating internally and externally with people who can make you more effective as a leader.

Interview by Des Kirby.

Explore our management training programme. Click the link below.

management effectiveness

 

 

 

To find out how LEAP can help you and your staff with training and development programmes speak to one of our business advisors directly.

Contact
T: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie

Great Business Leadership: learn to control that inner chimp!

Mike Gaffney managing director at LEAPA key aspect of great business leadership is recognising and negotiating new business opportunities, and that requires high levels of self-awareness. I asked LEAP’s managing director Mike Gaffney to recommend some reading material with a focus on personal development. His recommendation is one that the entrepreneur can use to increase both self-awareness and business profits.

‘Mike, any recommended reading for busy business leaders and entrepreneurs over the Christmas break?’
The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters. It is an entertaining, engaging and hugely insightful book. It’s an incredibly powerful mind management model that can help you become a happier, confident, healthier and more successful person.  The Chimp Paradox explains the struggle that takes place within your mind and then shows how to apply this understanding to every area of your life.

We talk a lot about business and leadership and improving your ability to deal with various situations. The Chimp Paradox explains how the human brain works in three basic parts. In each of us there is the reptilian brain of the chimp (emotional), the human brain (logical) and the computer brain (sub-conscious).  Understanding this enables you to recognise how the mind works, understand and manage emotions and thoughts, and manage yourself more effectively in stressful situations.

For example, it explains why when we are in traffic and a car cuts in front of us, the chimp within us jumps furiously up and down and beats its chest. Later on the human brain wonders why we got so excited about it. However, to avoid this, if the computer part of the brain has a pre-programmed calm response to the rude driver, the chimp can be directed by this pre-programmed response to relax and not get excited over a minor event.  Try it.

The book is about understanding this dynamic struggle inside each of us, and how to manage your own chimp, and how to use the chimp to protect you in dangerous situations. It’s an engaging read, both enlightening and humorous, and it does shed light on why we behave in certain ways, particularly when we’re under pressure and feel threatened.”

“You develop practical approaches to being more aware of the situations you are in…which is a much more mature form of leadership.”

Why do you recommend this book to business owners?keep calm and control the chimp
Business owners are aware that how well they manage themselves is critical to getting the right outcome in their day to day activities. It is not always about being right themselves, it is about ensuring the right outcome is achieved. That can often mean allowing a member of the team to be the hero, as opposed to the leader always having the answers.  We know this intuitively, however it is difficult to change existing behaviours.  The Chimp Paradox helps you address this.

It teaches you how to set up warning signs for yourself; how to get over yourself and your sense of self- importance, and how to avoid always beating your chest like that inner chimp. You develop practical approaches to being more aware of the situations you are in, and how you can better manage those situations to secure the right outcome, which is a much more mature form of leadership.”

In interview with Des Kirby
Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comment box below. Thanks.

New dynamic programme for business leaders & entrepreneurs futureSME  – learn more here

Further Enquiries
Contact LEAP
T: 091 755736
E: info@leapleadership.ie

 

Innovative leadership is the key to growth

Innovative leadership is the key to growth_blog

 

‘Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing.’ So said Warren Bennis over 20 years ago, but micromanaging is still one of the most common bad habits of business owners today. That is, getting bogged down in the day-to-day operations of their company, when they should be focusing on growing their business.  I talked to John Raftery  about leadership skills and how great business leaders avoid micromanagement in order to create the right environment to grow their companies.

Why do some leaders end up managing instead of leading their companies?

If you look at the evolution of businesses, particularly in the SME sector, what you find is that when people start off a business they take on a lot of the roles themselves in terms of sales, deliveries and operations and so on. As the company grows that’s fine, it works for a while, and they bring in more people. They continue on as they were, but eventually the business begins to plateau. The potential of the business isn’t realised, because they are now doing more and more and running around dealing with the day to day stuff.

So when they reach this plateau this is the critical point for them to move on to really try to grow the business. They have to put the systems and processes in place to help them move to the next level. The biggest thing that prevents people from doing this is that they are not very good at delegating, and also they don’t have enough trust in the people that work for them. And even if they do trust them they haven’t got the systems in place that can actually monitor and measure the effectiveness of their management team.

Leaders need to focus on growing the business, but what does that mean in practice?

For a lot of people I come across the big frustration is they don’t spend enough time meeting their customers, finding out what they want and developing new products and services. In order to grow the business, that’s where they need to focus their attention and spend their time.

Usually they spend their time playing catch-up, or making sure the day-to-day stuff is getting done adequately. Then there’s no time left at the end of the day to address the potential that could create the growth for them. Like spending time with customers, developing new products and services, meeting new people and getting ideas, and spending time looking back at the team who are running the business day-to-day. Figuring out how well they are performing, what their issues are and trying to come up with solutions that they can implement.

It’s a skill that a lot of business owners don’t have, they might be good in some areas but they are weak in other areas. And the weaknesses trip them up. No business leader is good in every area, if you really want to be a good business leader you need to identify what areas you are weak in, and then identify people who can support you in that area and get them to work with you.

So the leaders true skill is the ability to delegate?

Yes…and driving innovation and growth. The leader’s vision is about the future and trying to achieve some vision they have for themselves and their business. Delegation is an important part of it, because in order to achieve what they need to achieve they have to bring people with them, they can’t do it on their own.

It’s also about communicating exactly what they require, it’s about having the discipline to follow through, it’s picking the right people, it’s a whole series of boxes that need to be ticked to achieve what you want to achieve. But essentially it’s about getting other people to use their energy to help you to achieve your vision and that’s the skill. Having the vision is one thing but being able to implement it and realise it is another thing. And that’s the difference between management and leadership.

It sounds like leadership requires a lot of trust?

Well trust and integrity are vital ingredients for any leader. I think we can all agree on that. If a leader loses integrity and people lose trust in him or her, then they have no role. And trust is simple to build. Essentially it’s doing what you say you are going to do. And people have huge sensitivity, they’re antenna is out all the time, and they are watching how leaders perform every minute of the day. And if at any stage what they say and what they do is not congruent people spot it immediately.

Trust is vital in a leader, but likewise leaders have to be able to trust the team to deliver. That trust is built up through a steady performance of delivery, through mechanisms that can monitor what their inputs are, how accountable they are and how effective they are. If all those boxes are ticked then the leader becomes more trusting of the management team, and stays out of the micromanagement that some leaders get involved with. So there is this continued tension between letting the management team get on with it, and at the same time observing and monitoring what they are doing as well, so it’s a fine line.

Micromanaging can damage that trust?

If a management team feel they are being micromanaged by the leader, it undermines their confidence in themselves and in the leader as well. It can be very detrimental. So trust is easy to say but it’s hard to achieve it, because it’s not something that can be measured with a slide rule, and say ‘this is the level of trust that has been achieved.’

It’s about people’s views and opinions and some people find it difficult to articulate what the levels of trust are. Or what the factors are that undermine trust, but it’s evident to us who come in externally, and have experience of looking at effective leadership and management team performance. You can pick up on it fairly quickly if you have enough experience and you know what you’re looking for.

In interview with Des Kirby. Share your thoughts on this article. Leave a comment in the box below. To learn more about LEAP’s leadership programmes click the button below.

Our Leadership Programmes

 

 

John Raftery

John Raftery is executive coach at LEAP. Contact us if you’d like to discuss leadership or management issues affecting your business.

Contact Us
Tel: 091 755736
E:info@leapleadership.ie 

The Challenge of Leadership

Why is it that some weeks you are a focused, energetic leader and other weeks you feel like you are swimming through mud? Maybe it is because you are much more effective and energised when you are doing things that play to your personal strengths, and you are much less effective when you are doing things that are NOT playing to your personal strengths.The Challenge of LeadershipSo, what do you do?

  1.  Keep reminding yourself that you are a leader and that you have a responsibility towards yourself and others.
  2. Define your strengths and identify how you can best align your role as leader to those strengths
  3. Recognise when you have some tasks to do that are not aligned to your personal strengths
  4. Ask yourself whether those tasks can be delegated to others – if they can, then delegate them (ideally to someone who has strengths in that area)
  5. If you, and only you, can do the specific tasks then do them as quickly as possible and then get back to what you do best. Your heart and your business will thank you for it!

Leadership is about spending as much time as possible being focused, energised and therefore far more effective and as little time as possible swimming through mud (unless you like to de-stress by doing some bog swimming!)

The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born – Warren Bennis.

And remember – we don’t get it perfect all of the time. It is the endeavour….the starting afresh over and over…that eventually creates the habit of leadership….and THAT is the true prize.

Maureen Grealish The Challenge of Leadership

 

 

 

 

Maureen Grealish
Director at LEAP

Talk To Us About Our Business Leadership Programmes for Business Owners and Senior managers

Contact
Tel: 091 755736
E: Maureen@leapleadership.ie

Download our Make Leadership Happen programme for business owners.

Leadership Management Development
Leadership and Management Development