I think that we all know now that the heroic and charismatic model of leadership that has dominated thinking for the past few decades is an idea that has passed its sell by date. But what is to replace it? There has been much hope invested in the idea of visionary leadership, which seeks to paint compelling and exciting pictures of hopeful and positive futures and there is no doubt that this is an essential component of leadership. But it is not enough.
As people, we need hope. It is what gets us out of bed in the morning. The idea that we can apply ourselves to create a better future is fundamental to our hopes and dreams, not least for meaning and purpose in our work lives. And all too often these are missing.
Vision can help create that excitement. But can we believe in it? Many visionary leaders are fantastic at painting the exciting pictures, making us feel good about ourselves and the situation, but sometimes we have trouble believing in the possibility that these dreams are attainable or might become real at some point.
Enter the facilitative leader. One of the key things about visions, is that they are our own thoughts in response to someone else’s picture. In other words we have ownership. The facilitative leader understands how to use questions to help people build the relationship between the reality of now with the desirability of the vision. This helps people to see how it is they can change what they do and how they do it to start moving towards this picture, and as a consequence increase confidence in the attainment of the vision.
However, for most leaders, this approach brings all sorts of challenges — the good news is that with the appropriate levels of belief and desire the skills can be learnt and acquired.
As a starter for ten, ask yourself the question “are all of my people wildly excited and vigourously pursuing an unshakeable belief in an exciting future?” If you cannot answer this question with an honest “yes”, then facilitative leadership might be for you.
If you would like to discuss building a facilitative leadership capability within your organisation please contact Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on +44 (0) 7711 831992.
Who would you follow and why? This is a question that we ought to be asking of ourselves a little more…
Also much is made of task-people focus – I was once corrected (quite rightly) by a junior consultant who said that leaders cannot be too task focused – only too little focused on the needs of the team.
The reality is that we follow leaders and causes together – we must know why we are doing what we do, and also who we are doing it for. In other words we must connect strategy and leadership in ways that are consistent and compelling for people.
Without strategy, leadership is just relationship, and without leadership, strategy is just ideas. Making the strategy happen to achieve the vision is the end game, and people need to be both engaged and enabled to pour their energy and time into execution.
I am sure you have seen leaders who get on famously with their people, but only get mediocre results from their team, or, and in my experience far more common, those leaders who pay little attention to the human issues and get grudging compliance that doe little judge to the potential that lies within.
The truth of it is that we all exist somewhere along this spectrum – but have you got the balance right for today’s team facing up to today’s challenge?read more
Much is currently being written about the value of engaging your people in their work and in your leadership, and there is clear evidence that more engaged people perform to higher levels than people who have less connection with what they do.
However, with engagement comes increased expectation around the rewards that people get from their work (mainly talking about non-financial here…).
Is there a risk that we are setting people up for disappointment and starting a train of action that we would have been better off not triggering at all?
Potentially this is the case, if we do not match engagement with enablement – equipping people with the resources, confidence, skills, knowledge and support to get the task done are equally as important, and current evidence suggests that the highest performance levels are achieved through a combination of engagement and enablement.
As leaders, we continually need to focus on the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ elements of organisational performance and ensure they are integrated.
Check your balance – are you too focused on the hard elements of task, results and resources; or are you focusing too much on the relationship, engagement and desire without the consummate clarity?
What do you need to do on Monday morning to redress this balance?read more
As a leader within your organisation, have you become too aware of the limitations that you feel the team has, and as a consequence have your expectations become lower?
Different people have different levels of frustration tolerance
, and as a consequence we are affected differently by the perceived limitations of those around us.
These limitations are those we impose on others though…
Our perceptions of others are based on what we ‘know’ (or think we do!) about others’ capabilities. However, our actions in turn condition the reactions of others.
So what, I hear you say… hear me out – as leaders we are responsible for getting the best out of others. If our ‘knowledge’ of them is biased (which of course it is…) then we are probably causing them to react in less than ideal ways, and so perform to lower levels than their potential would suggest.
Look afresh at the people around you with whom you have regular contact – what do you need to ‘un-know’ today to enable that ambition for your business and team to return?read more
How do your followers see you? Or, rather how do they feel when you are around?
Do they react with excitement when you are there?
Being able to enthuse those around you whilst remaining believable is a neat trick – and one most of our leadership development and coaching activity is centred around.
Do a check on your own realistic optimism – is it where it needs to be to have the right impacts on those around you?read more