It’s only a few days until our Stepping Up event at the RDS! In anticipation of this event, over the last few weeks Dearbhalla Baviera of Clearbird Consulting has been examining “What Stepping Up Really Means”. This is the third of her three-part series. In it, she talks about “Leading from the Front”. We look forward to hearing her talk in more detail on the 21st of September.
Deirdre O’Shaughnessy, Partner, Amrop
As an executive Coach working frequently with emerging leaders, in particular female talented and emerging leaders, I hear a common challenge again and again when working with emerging leaders including very often those at Senior Management and Director level. It sounds like this ‘I’m not strategic’ and ‘I don’t have time to be strategic’. In our recent blogs we have addressed two of the key pillars that are crucial in actively managing the transition from Management to Leadership. Firstly, we looked at that important first mindset set change in Shifting from the Tactical, and secondly allowing yourself to think and act strategically by Engaging Differently.
And now to fit in the final piece of the jigsaw on the Final Pillar, I often ask new leaders who are struggling with determining and placing their leadership style, to consider inspirational leaders that they have come across throughout their career and indeed the opposite. What is it or was it about them that inspired, that made them effective leaders, moving beyond command and control, moving beyond getting the job done.
The Third Pillar: Leading from the Front
This Third Pillar is dependent on the previous two pillars being in place. In the context of stepping up and shifting from management to leadership, it’s about bringing together some of the previous points to allow yourself to lead. Perhaps you need to give yourself permission to lead. Perhaps you need to make time to lead. Perhaps you need to trust yourself to bring your depth and breadth of experience to be decisive and to communicate that effectively. This pillar is made up of
Articulate the Vision, the Purpose, the Direction: When we are stuck in the detail, focused on managing people (corrective management, year-end performance management) and focused on the short term and getting the job done, the ‘why’ is often lost. As a leader, it is your job to bring that sense of purpose that direction, linking the job to the strategic objectives of your company. When times are challenging, it is that clarity of direction that will keep the team motivated and engaged and taking responsibility for their role. Don’t underestimate the importance of bringing the ‘why’ and the context to the team and leading from the front.
Make time to think strategically: For many leaders that I work with, this is a game changer. Prioritising time to think, time to reflect and time to strategically forward plan is critical but so often over-looked. Simple things such as blocking regular time in your diary can help, as can leaving the office to work elsewhere with no interruptions. But the first step, has to be the mindset shift to placing value on thinking time and on prioritising time to allow yourself to be more strategic. Strategic thinking allows you to focus on the big picture, thinking beyond your role, your function and focusing on the best interest of the company. If you want to be able to lead from the front and be in a position to clearly articulate the vision and strategy, you have make time to do that.
Bring your authentic self: Do not assume that you have to act like others, that you need to dilute your own strengths, your own style of leadership of engaging. Society needs diversity of role models, of leadership styles and sometimes it can take courage to stay true to your authentic self. Hold your integrity. Stay true to your values. Lead from the front in a way that is authentic to you. Sometimes this will be challenging but holding true to authentic self will allow you to lead from the front in a way that is right for you.
Be decisive: There is a time and a place for being collaborative and listening to others but fundamentally, it is the leaders job to call it, to make the decision in such a way that others are on board and follow. A number of things need to be in place for this to happen. As a leader, your team trusts you to have both their best interest and the best interest of the organisation at heart.
I have said this before but in the context of wrapping up this blog series, it is worth saying again.
The key to actively managing the shift from functional expert and management, through to leadership and stepping up is owning it. Own the discussions, own how you are coming across, own your own growth.
Seek out mentors and support. Seek out opportunities. Don’t wait for it to happen. Don’t wait to be asked. Don’t wait for the recognition to come because you deserve it and are working hard. Take the reins on your own career and navigate forward with purpose.
In our upcoming Emerging Female Talent Series, we will be addressing many of these themes with expert speakers and experienced female leaders who will share their experiences from their journey to leadership. We are creating this Community of Practice to hold the place to discuss what is often not discussed, to share experiences and to create a space for learning, reflecting and networking.
Dearbhalla Baviera, founder of Clearbird Coaching and Consulting is an Executive Coach, Speaker and Consultant who focuses on Feeding the Female Leadership Pipeline.