A few weeks ago, I wrote about the first six practical steps to develop your meaningful leadership skills. In this blog, I will cover the remaining six; but first a reminder of what a Meaningful Leader is.
4Seeds has coined the term, which combines transformational, authentic and servant leadership into a new style call Meaningful Leadership. All of the above leadership styles want to create a positive lasting change, ensure that employees have a deep and meaningful connection to their work, and assist employees to achieve their potential by using their strengths.
In Part 1 we outlined the first six practical steps that you need to develop as a Meaningful Leader, these are:
- Use positive we language throughout your communication;
- Uphold and honour commitments made at all times which will drive accountability, respect and trust for the team and for yourself;
- Compassion-based economics refers to finding the right balance of placing your people first and at the same time ensuring that performance is upheld;
- Learn to become an active observer of situations, and gather important facts and information before making decisions;
- Self-awareness of the impact your leadership style, actions and moods have on your team’s performance, morale and commitment; and
- Openly embrace failure as part of a learning and growing culture.
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The Next 6 Traits of a Meaningful Leader
Transparent and Open Communication
We communicate all day from when we wake up in the morning until we go to bed at night. Most of this communication is effortless. However, at work, this simple skill often becomes an art and a science to master. Miscommunication and conflict are among the highest reasons teams don’t perform and commitments are not upheld. As a Meaningful Leader, learn to communicate regularly with your team. Hold daily five to ten-minute scrum chats to establish where everybody is. If priorities are re-arranged or tasks reallocated, explain the reason for your decision. Also, be specific as to why something has been changed, who will be impacted, the new timeline, what’s expected and how you’ll measure progress. It’s unlikely that your team will complain about you over-communicating, so keep the communication flowing!
Reciprocate Positive Relationships
Communication and relationships go hand in hand. Building positive relationships requires a continuous give and take. We need to be respectful of each other, appreciating the diversity of people’s thoughts, ideas and ways of working. Trust is also important so that we know that what we have committed to will be done on time and to the required standard. We have to invest in a relationship for it to become positive, and we can only reciprocate when we get to know each other at work and outside of it. Learn to understand what people value, what they enjoy doing and make them feel comfortable to be themselves without judgement. Set time aside to get to know each team member.
An Open Growth Mindset
Our mindset is the attitude towards ourselves and others and influences our behaviour, thoughts and goal attainment. Balance your attitude towards upholding high-performance standards, while equally learning from your mistakes. It’s not always easy to accept setbacks which may have a cost implication, but we need to embrace them as part of the learning process when they will enhance quality or efficiency in the long run. Incorporate the phrase: “We are not there YET” which brings in the philosophy of continuous innovation, making improvements, taking risks and moving forward.
Take Ownership of Change
Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see.” In a leadership role, you are the conduit through which change flows because you instigate it. This means that you must be comfortable with the fluidity of change and embrace the fact that things at work will change from week to week. To assist you in that process, start by spotting the opportunity and positive forward movement that the change will bring. Likewise, see what potential hindrances may arise and how you collectively can overcome these or find a better solution.
Focus on Others’ Strengths
Focusing on strengths is new in leadership and might still be questioned by some sceptics. We have been trained to focus on our weaknesses and to develop those. However, our strengths are what ensures that we repetitively perform near-perfect work as these come naturally to us and are effortless actions. As a start, a Meaningful Leader should be able to articulate what they are innately good at, being clear about what makes them unique. Once you have done it for yourself, start to see what each team member brings to the table. You can even go a step further and acknowledge the person for the strength. That’s a bonus of appreciation and strengths-spotting.
Embrace Work-life Balance
With the pace of the current working world, managing a healthy work-life balance is becoming a challenge for many people. We are always connected to our work on our phones, laptops and social media; some people even receive their emails on their watches! Our mind seldom rests and we are always thinking of work outside of working hours. As a Meaningful Leader, you set the tone and need to be the primary example that balancing work and life is very important. People who have had a decent night’s rest come to work feeling energised and ready to perform. Consider this when sending or responding to emails. Exercise regularly, let your team see you taking regular breaks throughout the day, and question people who are continuously working late. Encourage people to take their leave without being contactable or responding to emails. You have to set the tone here.
Regardless of whether you are a new or seasoned leader, these 12 traits are recommended for you to embrace and apply. Leading means managing yourself and your team and very little about your technical skills, albeit that they are most likely how you got this far. Become a leader that your team can approach freely and talk to openly, be seen walking the floor and take time to hear and feel the heartbeat of your team.