Leadership : Stop Treating People Equally
"If your leadership style implies treating everyone equally, then you are probably headed in the wrong direction"
I stepped out of my comfort zone this week and experienced my first ever AcroYoga class outdoors, in the midst of nature... Whilst I have practiced yoga for over 10 years, this had a new twist to it, where your performance depended on a dual effort between your core strength and that of your yoga partner's. It also depended on massive amounts of trust...
Being a Star Leader™ is too, like a balancing act between you, the leader, and the person you are leading, where synchronicity and synergy is key. Synchronicity because it's about accomplishing a goal by moving forward inter-dependently and purposefully; and Synergy because it's the leader's job to leverage their team members' talents so that optimum results are achieved through capitalizing the team's potential, which would otherwise not be achievable.
So who, in the picture, is leading whom ? Whilst it is my yoga instructor enabling me to perform something I would not have otherwise been able to do, he is still synchronized with me, carefully considering my « readiness » before taking the next step as we progress into the pose. The same is applicable in Leadership : Unless you consider where each of your employees are at in terms of their level of skills, experience and commitment v. accomplishing their tasks and goals, your leadership style could be the very cause of that which keeps you and your team from succeeding.
Consider this :
Team member X is new to the role and very excited about beginning something new. They are keen and ready to learn, with a high commitment level, but have no skills yet on the job. Team member X needs instructions, direction and a high level of supervision, because alone they are unable to make decisions considering there is no experience gained yet on which to base sound judgment. As a leader, your best choice in leadership style would be a directive one. Any other leadership style giving leeway to X could mean X doesn't feel they have the support they need.
Team member Y, however, is someone brought into the company with 15 years experience on the job. Whilst they don't need direction or coaching on the job, like X, they might need support for understanding the systems within the company and how decision-making is done. In this case, you would choose a more delegative leadership style, whilst providing support from a distance, when Y needs it.
No two people are the same or have the same profile. Star Leaders™ diagnose individual needs and adapt their leadership style according to each person's needs. They don't treat people the same.
Synergy is created when two or more people cooperate to produce a result not independently obtainable. Synergizing people always create more than the mere sum of their efforts, enhancing the level of performance.
A leader who invests their time and effort finding ways to synergize – rather than simply collecting - talents amongst their team members, is investing their time wisely and effectively.
Some companies put in place Mentoring Programmes whereby the less experienced are coupled with a skilled and experienced mentor : the mentee is put on the fast track to becoming operational, and the mentor shares their know-how whilst learning new skills such as mentoring and coaching. Often getting that effective team spirit in place requires tenacity on behalf of the leader, as they try out different things. Again, consider where each person is at in their work and what needs they have right now. Perhaps by coupling the « techy » person who lacks relational skills with the highly popular team player who can't ever seem to complete a task, you would be creating a synergy... Or the process-driven business developer coupled with the passionate pitcher could be another way of leveraging your team's talents...
Being a Star Leader™ is pacing with the people you lead. It's about adapting your style with your environment. No doubt you have come across the saying : « Go slower to go faster ». We are all guilty at times for not taking the necessary time to reflect before diving into new projects. Before the office gets busy after the summer, what better time that to take stock now ?