Leadership and the development of others
At the end of 2020 when I had an enormous amount of unused annual leave left as a result of not taking a holiday due to the COVID 19 international travel ban, I decided to do something useful with my extra days. I signed up to a distance learning Women's Leadership Course at Yale University School of Management and spent six weeks learning about different aspects of leadership and leadership styles.
This course was for women as it drew upon skills that are stereotypically classed as more female traits. However I took a lot away from this course that I think men also would find beneficial.
I wish I could detail everything on these pages that I learnt, however these are my key takeaways.
Leading by your core values
It is so important to lead by your core values. For me, personally, every example of a good leader is one who has had compassion, given up their time to teach and guide, one who has genuinely cared about who I am. It isn’t all about being ‘nice’. Many of the people who have been the most influential in my life have been brutally honest regarding the areas in which I need to improve and I respect the honesty and integrity that comes with that.
I took time to consider my personal core values and focus on how I ensure my management style embodies these.
My personal core values
We are all human and we don’t go to work to be mistreated. I firmly believe that in order to get the best out of people then you need to care about them and connect with them on a human and emotional level. This comes from my own personal experience where I have performed at my best when I feel understood, supported and cared about by my leaders.
It’s so important to be honest and have integrity as a leader. If a leader cannot be honest then this sets an example to those who report into them. A leader cannot expect an honest outcome if the input from themselves doesn’t also fully embody that value.
Being respectful of others is such an important value in both my personal and professional life. Every person is different and being mindful and respectful makes people feel valued. Being respectful towards others helps to set the right tone in the workplace and this will often help make an emotional connection that says to the other person that they are welcome and appreciated. A leader will get much more out of a team member when they feel comfortable and respected in their business environment.
Without your team, no leader can thrive and so I see supportiveness as being key in developing trust and respect from a team. Being supportive is about making time for others development and standing up for your team when required. It also means not blaming others when things go wrong and instead, working together to find a solution.
All good leaders that I have experienced have an innate ability to ‘hold themselves together’. They remain calm in stressful situations and have clarity in their communication. A leader with self-awareness can manage their emotional state so that the way that they approach a problem or a person is not dependent on how they feel that day. This is particularly important in conflict resolution.
It is important to me to show commitment to any task I am doing particularly if I am asking others to do it also. A good leader should be committed to seeing a task through and be prepared to do what is necessary in order to achieve it. This could mean working with others and sometimes doing tasks that fall outside of their remit. This demonstrates to others that the leader has humility and is prepared to do whatever it takes.
It’s important to take responsibility for your actions. Just as you wouldn’t want someone taking credit for your work, you need to be accountable for everything you do, both the good and the bad. When a leader displays these qualities, is accountable for themselves and gives credit where credit is due, then they are more likely to be respected by others.