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

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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.

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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

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4 Ways to Increase Leadership Effectiveness

4 ways to increase leadership effectiveness

 

We work mainly with business owners and managers in the SME sector and what we find in general is that they have a clear idea of what they want to achieve with their business, but what they don’t have are good methodologies in terms of implementing their vision for the business. One of the programmes we deliver is the futureSME and the management team programme. These programmes try to help business owners and senior management teams to deliver true leadership in the organisation. Any discussion about leadership effectiveness can be quite difficult to pin down. It’s about behaviour which is very hard to measure and values that can be difficult to articulate. At LEAP we have our own template that we go through with business owners. Here are 4 ways to increase leadership effectiveness.

1. Clarify the vision
The first thing we look at is the vision. We clarify what the leader’s vision for the company is by asking the question, ‘where do the leaders see the company going in the next two to three years?’ It’s about articulating that vision and finding a way to communicate that vision to the rest of the organisation.

2. Decide the purpose of the organisation
Once the vision has been established and clarified, we look at the core purpose of the organisation; what does the organisation represent and what do they want to achieve? I use the example of Ryanair distilling their message or purpose down to just two words – no frills. We try to help organisations to simplify their message and what it is they represent, so people in the organisation are clear about what behaviours and attitudes and standards are being set. That’s not just for the benefit of the staff but also to establish that sense of purpose for customers and suppliers as well.

3. Establish goals
Once we establish that purpose we look at the three or four primary goals that the organisation wants to achieve. Then we find a mechanism to articulate those goals particularly through visual management systems. One of the visual tools we use are Gantt Charts featuring various lines of action, where we assign work to people, in other words who is going to do what and when. It’s essentially a visual monitoring system , like a traffic light system to show what’s working and what isn’t. Green means the action is on target, orange means the action has been delayed or is still in progress and red is for tasks that have missed their completion date.

4. Measure performance
Another thing we try to establish is what the correct key performance indicators (KPI) are in the business. KPIs show the activities of team members and the level of progress in different areas within the business. One of the things I find working with companies is that they either have no KPIs at all, or they are measuring some KPIs but they are the wrong ones. The KPIs they are measuring are driving the wrong behaviours and activities within the organisation. That can greatly hinder a company’s performance and needs to be corrected as a matter of urgency. 

So it’s very important that everything is aligned from the leader’s vision to the purpose of the company through to the goals, lines of action and KPIs. You can talk about leadership styles and the different types of leaders, but if you follow this clear methodology you can’t go far wrong.

 

leadership, leadership ireland, executive coach John Raftery is Senior Partner and Executive Coach at LEAP. To learn about our leadership and management programmes click the button below.

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Congratulations to NUIG Managing People group

LEAP would like to say many congratulations to the NUIG staff who recently completed LEAP’s Management Development Programme. Upon completion of the programme participants received their Level 6 QQI Component Certificate in Managing People. We wish all of you continued success in your careers.

Pictured: NUIG staff with their QQI Level 6 Certificate in Managing People
Front Row: Nuala McGuinn, Tricia Cunningham (LEAP programme facilitator), Orla O’Donovan, Sylvia McDonagh
Back Row: Ronan Kennedy, Kevin Hynes

 

QQI level 6 component certificate in managing people

Every team member needs to ensure that they maximize their contribution to the company. Companies require a fully engaged team to deliver consistently high levels of performance. To support team members in raising their game LEAP’s programmes, built around core people performance areas, will enable individuals to increase their contribution by applying proven practical approaches with immediate impact on the organisation.

– LEAP

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Personal Effectiveness for Team Leaders

Personal effectiveness for team leaders

You may have heard the term Personal Effectiveness Programme or Personal Development Programme, but what exactly are they and who are they for? Is there an employee at your company you feel has the potential to contribute more to the organisation? Maybe they have the key skills to do their current job but lack the confidence to move up to the next level within your organisation. Mike Gaffney is adamant that with the right support system in place, those employees can learn new skill sets that will increase their personal effectiveness and help them transition into a leadership role.

Here’s where a personal effectiveness programme comes in.

Personal effectiveness programme for your workforce

When we discussed the Capability Development Framework (CDF) with business leaders around the country we looked at the area of personal effectiveness for the general workforce. They said ‘yeah we should do something there,’ but they were a little hesitant. However once they introduced the idea to the general work force, universally the response was fantastic.

The sentiment is ‘finally we get a chance to develop our skills and knowledge.’ They also appreciate the fact that it’s a certified training programme, assuring them that the programme is run in a very supportive and professional manner. During the workshops time is allocated to help people acquire the certification, so the enthusiasm and commitment of participants in the general workforce on these programmes is a joy to behold.

When it comes to motivated and engaged workers it’s not about the amount of money they get. It’s about addressing key questions; am I respected here? Are my thoughts and ideas being listened to? Do I belong in this organisation?

The Personal Effectiveness programme is saying to them; not only do you belong but we want you to develop your skills, your knowledge and your capabilities and become a critical and important contributor to the ongoing development of our organisation.

Who is the personal effectiveness programme for?

The usual participants are the people directly below the first management tier. They are people with potential who could, in a relatively short length of time, progress into a management role. They are key people in the organisation who have important responsibilities, but are not in a management position yet. They are the most common type of employees that companies are sending forward for the Personal Effectiveness programme.

So staff members with the potential to be future managers of the business. 

What they currently do as individuals is critical for the organisation, but management have recognised their potential to contribute even more and progress further within the company.

What will the programme do for participants and their organisation?

It will greatly increase their confidence and their willingness to actively contribute ideas to the organisation. For some people there may be great potential but also a slight lack of confidence in stepping out beyond the boundaries of the role they currently have. This programme addresses that lack of confidence.

Why should an organisation invest in a personal effectiveness programme?

Because despite our best intentions, each of us can become stagnant or stale in our current roles. We see the world in a certain way and we become comfortable with the way things are, because this is how they’ve always been done. We tend to slow ourselves down with these artificial constraints we place on ourselves. The programme helps people to freshen up and learn new approaches, new ideas and new skills. It’s a more natural way to re-commit to a company and re-engage with the daily activities in a more thoughtful manner.

The programme will:
• Increase your confidence when moving into a new role in the organisation
• Increase your skill set to effectively manage the new role
• Engage more effectively with your team and senior management
• Re-energise yourself within the organisation
• Help you develop a greater awareness of your own behaviours and how you impact others

Is the programme accredited?

Yes, it comes with the Quality and Qualifications Institute (QQI) Level 5 certification.

What is the structure of the programme?

There are typically 4 one day workshops covering the key areas; managing self, time management, working with internal customers, and effective team player. Running in parallel to the workshops there are specific assignments that have to be completed. There is also ongoing mentoring support from LEAP’s business advisors and executive coaches, to ensure each participant can successfully submit the body of work required for certification at QQI Level 5.

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How to make team meetings more effective

How to make team meetings more effective_John Raftery blogIn this part of John Raftery’s series on visual management he addresses the problem of team meetings that lack purpose, and have little effect on performance. Due to a lack of delegation and accountability meetings will often drift off the agenda, with team members no better off after the meeting than they were before it. What can managers do to correct this? Here John explains how to make team meetings more effective, and how a simple visual aid like a Gantt Chart can transform meetings.

Team leaders must track performance

‘What companies need are not meetings for meetings sake. Meetings do have a bad name and the reason they have a bad name is because they go on too long and tend to go off track. People often come in ill-prepared for the meeting, then minutes are taken and issued out. People don’t look at those minutes until just before the next meeting takes place, so nobody really takes any action. The meetings just go on and on indefinitely, without really achieving anything. There is no tracking mechanism to see how effective the meetings are.

Visual Management

The simplest and most effective way to make meetings useful and efficient is, once again, to introduce the concept of visual management. If you were to do a Google search on work plans you will probably see lots of different examples of plans which are basically Gantt Charts. Instead of issuing minutes to the team after a meeting, all you need to do is take your weekly or monthly meeting and divide it up into 4 or 5 core areas.

Creating accountability

Under each of those core areas you will have different lines of action in the left hand column. The next column will show who the owners of the lines of action are, in other words who’s responsible for implementing those actions. Then divide up the right hand side of the page with a timeline of 12 months or 52 weeks. There you track the activities by colour coding them using green, orange and red. Green indicating actions completed successfully within the timeline, orange indicating actions delayed or postponed and red indicating actions incomplete within the timeline.

How to make team meetings more effective_visual managementYou can then print this Gantt chart out on an A3 sheet of paper, and this can act as a very effective tool in managing team meetings. Not only does it show what people should be working on and what’s coming up next, it also helps you to track the things you have achieved over the year. As more and more items are shaded green, you get a good overall picture of the progress that’s being made. It’s a very simple but effective tool that gets away from the standard process of meetings that can often drift off course, and where no real progress reporting gets done.’

John Raftery is a business advisor and executive coach at LEAP.

Interview by Des Kirby
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Common Management Mistakes That Demotivate Teams

Common Management Mistakes That Demotivate Teams

 

Whether you’re a newly appointed manager or one with extensive experience, managing a demotivated team is challenging, frustrating and time consuming. Here are 3 common management mistakes often made that result in teams being demotivated and unproductive:

 

1. Demonstrating a lack of interest in the person

Generally speaking, people spend more time interacting with their colleagues at work than they do with family and friends – people may be at home for 14 hours on a work day but they spend a significant amount of that time sleeping! So the workplace is an important place in their lives. People who don’t feel valued and supported at work become demotivated with a corresponding drop in productivity.

2. Refusing to address poor working relationships between team members

Most people dislike conflict. It isn’t the easiest issue to address as it has the potential to escalate or expand to involve others in the organisation. However, conflict can be successfully resolved and indeed avoided if addressed early. Disagreement is healthy as it can often lead to newer, more innovative suggestions being identified. When disagreement becomes entrenched or personalised it is unhealthy and a manager needs to tackle it immediately. Believing it will go away or resolve itself often leads to the issue escalating resulting in individuals withdrawing, taking sides or fuelling the fire.

3. Making assumptions that all is well

Managers are sometimes reluctant to ask the question “Is everything okay?” for fear that the answer may be “no”. Regularly asking the question allows individuals to raise concerns or issues early when they can be easily resolved. It builds stronger relationships between managers and team members enhancing communication and co-operation.

 

Tricia Cunningham is a partner and business advisor at LEAP.

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Emerging Managers Programme

Emerging Managers Programme Carlow-Kilkenny

Places are now available on the Emerging Managers Programme delivered by LEAP in conjunction with Carlow – Kilkenny Skillnet. Workshops will commence in April 2015.

Newly appointed managers need to be supported as they look to establish their style and approach to leading and developing their teams. The Emerging Managers Programme will provide managers with practical tools and approaches to managing people which can be easily applied to their workplace. Facillitated by skilled professionals with an in-depth knowledge of what it takes to succeed in the workplace, this programme will provoke thought and action with immediate results.

This programme is designed to support newly appointed or soon to be appointed managers. Additionally it would benefit managers looking to enhance their skills further.

LEAP_Emerging Managers Programme

 Venue

The programme is delivered over 6 full day workshops in the Carlow Gateway Business Centre, Athy Road, Carlow.

Start Date

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Workshops Include

  • The Role of the Manager
  • Producing a High Performance Team
  • Development of Self
  • Effective Communication
  • Time Management
  • Managing Change

Download The Programme Brochure

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Emerging Managers Programme Carlow-Kilkenny

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LEAP_Emerging Managers Programme

How does futureSME come alive in a business?

LEAP’s Tricia Cunningham explains the advantages for small and mediumTricia Cunningham
enterprises (SME)
participating in development programmes using the futureSME methodology. This business framework was the result of an €8 million EU research project that was successfully carried out by the University of Strathclyde and tried and tested on SMEs across Europe.

Tricia, how does futureSME come alive in a business?
One of the critical tools that we explore in the programme workshops is ‘thinking as one brain.’ We try to get the leaders and managers to understand what they need to put in place to ensure the team are in sync, and implement this in the workplace. So the teams work through how they can develop the team to think as one brain, and understand what the guidelines are for managing team meetings effectively.  That way they can work through information quickly, succinctly and cohesively.

Meetings become productive and employees walk away from the meetings with a clear understanding of what has been discussed, what has been decided, and they are clear about any actions that need to be taken.

We also explore any issues of dissent; when you are trying to implement the visual strategy there are times when the team will encounter road blocks i.e. challenges that have to be overcome. We explore what you can do to ensure that those obstacles can be overcome.  

Implementation is Critical
Many times in the SME sector you are working with small teams because there aren’t that many layers in the organisation. You have the business owner and key employees as opposed to a team of managers. But it’s still vitally important that these key people make it happen.

So the leader and the key people have to decide how they are going to work effectively together, to ensure the visual strategy comes alive and achieves the desired results. Having the visual strategy alone will not ensure success. Having the visual strategy, and working together as one brain, will ensure that you make progress in achieving your business goals.

How many workshops are on the programme?
There are 6 workshops on the programme; the first 4 are focused on developing the visual strategy, and also examining the leader’s role to ensure he/she is functioning properly as a leader in their business. Then we look at the roles of the rest of the team in terms of implementation. So the first half of the programme develops the visual strategy; the second half looks at getting the team on board and moving them along that strategy.

Is there any support system on the programme for participating companies?
Mentoring is an important element on the programme, so at the start of the programme we do a capability diagnostic to assess where the business is today, and that’s completed with the mentor. There are 6 mentoring sessions in total.

On the Business Leadership Programme  they are 6 mentoring sessions for each business owner, and on the Management Team Development Programme there are team mentoring sessions.  So you might have three people from one business and they will have one mentoring session after each workshop.

Why would you recommend this programme over others Tricia?
It’s based on intensive research on large successful corporations by the EU Framework 7 project . These programmes have been proven to work, they’ve been validated. They have been used by large organisations to succeed, and they have been translated in a way that is workable and practical in an SME environment.

It’s also different from other programmes because it comes with qualified mentors. They fully understand the futureSME process, they understand small and medium businesses, and they know what it’s like for a leader trying to transform their business.

They work closely with the participating companies. So you have that individual element in the workshops where people can exchange ideas, share their understanding, and then the individual can apply what they learn to their own company. That’s what makes the difference, and that’s what makes it so successful.

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Interviewed by Des Kirby
Are the issues mentioned by Tricia currently affecting your management teams? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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International Best Practice to support Irish SME success

   New subsidised Business Management programme to transform Irish SMEs 

The heartbeat of the Irish economy relies on the success of the indigenous SME sector. While the focus in recent years has been on ensuring businesses remain viable, there is a need to shift focus on growth. A new practical and impactful business management programme being delivered by LEAP, a Galway-based training and coaching organisation, uses the best practices and tools from the most successful international companies and demonstrates how these can be applied to any business, regardless of size or sector.

The Business Leadership Programme, which is heavily subsidised by ManagementWorks, a Skillnets initiative, commences in Shannon on 18th February and is open for sign-ups. Spaces on the programme are limited so anyone interested in growing their business in 2014 is urged to register.

The programme utilises futureSME methodology, a transformational business strategy that has been developed over a four-year period through an EU Framework 7 Project. FutureSME focuses on the key management capabilities that are essential in driving a business forward and applies them to any organisation. The programme is fully accredited and exclusively delivered in Ireland by LEAP.

Mike Gaffney MD at LEAP
Mike Gaffney MD at LEAP

“Over the six-month period, we work with organisations through a combination of in-house mentoring with facilitated group workshops. The programme aims to transform the entire business, on every level. Using this innovative methodology we will work to build and implement a visual strategy and provide the support necessary for its development and completion. We also review the progress, ensuring its success.”

Speaking about its involvement in the programme, Brian Colleran of ManagementWorks said: “This is a fantastic business leadership programme that should be of huge interest to SMEs operating in very competitive markets. Given it is heavily subsidised and supported by the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs, we are expecting a lot of interest”.

Business owners and managers interested in the Business Leadership Programme in Shannon or futureSME, should contact Sonja Stevens at LEAP by calling 091-755736 or emailing Sonja@leapleadership.ie.  

For more information on ManagementWorks Programmes visit www.managementworks.ie