John and Stephanie McCloskey discuss why a softer and more involved approach to management can lead to happier and more productive employees.
AS A LEADER, if you want a thriving business today you must be much more involved in the growth of your people. Engagement and transparency are the new buzzwords where a collaborative team drives the business, based around the agreed vision of the leader. The leader must be the epitome of what the business stands for and the ultimate advert for its values.
Staff no longer want to be told or sold; they want to be shown and grown in their choice of employment. They have accepted that if this particular job doesn’t work out, then they will simply try another. Loyalty is gone; only 29 per cent of the Australian workforce is fully engaged, with the rest disengaged to varying degrees.
EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION TODAY – GET USED TO IT!
Expect to be questioned on where the business is going and be prepared to involve your people in that discussion. The leadership of yesterday was akin to a benevolent dictatorship. This is not the case today; our people are more vocal, opinionated even, but if you meet them in an empathetic manner it will pay dividends in the long run. Great leaders are great communicators. They are able to fine-tune what they say to make a positive impact on their people and move everyone forward.
LEADERSHIP IS INFLUENCE
Great leaders focus on where the business is going (the vision) and how to get there (the goals and milestones). It is not enough just to talk to our people about remuneration; we must engage them and be genuinely interested in their lives, their hopes and their dreams. If we do not know what is important to them, we have little or no chance of aligning their path with ours. We have to become their coaches, harnessing their strengths for the benefit of all.
THE BEST LEADERS ARE COACHES
Coaches bring out the best in their charges. They don’t compete with them, but instead work to maximise the team’s effectiveness through enhancing skills and adjusting attitudes. There is no ego involved; it’s about leveraging your experience through your people, engaging them, growing them and building a business that benefits from you, rather than relies on you. You create an atmosphere of teamwork and collaboration, one where people know they can ask for help and are willing to give it.
DON’T COMPETE WITH YOUR TEAM
Putting others first is one of the hallmarks of great leadership. That’s not to say you sacrifice yourself; it just means investing time in your people and showing them how to take responsibility for themselves. When you compete, you undermine your ability to influence in any way other than in a competitive manner.
Ask yourself: do you want a job or a business? Coach your people to be better than you and you will have a business that gives you more than just money. You may even start to like it when someone breaks the records you set, and guess what? That’s perfect! Welcome to the world of true leadership! Do what you do well, but focus the results on the control board around the team’s efforts, rather than the comfort blanket of what the boss brings in.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO COACH OTHERS, YOU WILL NEED TO COACH YOURSELF FIRST
We are all used to doing SWOT analysis on the business, but how about on ourselves? Great leaders are self-aware: they play to their strengths and work around their weaknesses. Brilliant real estate leaders today who realise that managing people is not their strength bring in another person to fill that void. That way they keep their focus on doing what they love in the business.
IN THE PAST LEADERS WERE EXPECTED TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS
Not so much today. Your people want to see that you are decisive and competent. However, they also need to be heard. As a leader and coach, you know that the only answer people are interested in is the one they come up with themselves. So what you need are great questions to help people come to their own conclusions. That is why coaching is the perfect way to lead your team.
So what makes a great leader today? Someone who can bring out the best in their team; who can create buy-in with the vision or brand and have a genuine interest in their people. A great coach equals a great leader, a great leader equals great success.