What’s going on in the place where you’re a leader? Leadership, teamwork, goal setting and planning are probably all areas that are no doubt part of your role and, in some cases, maybe where you may seek more support. The sharpest organisations are seeking out the right support, just when they need it, and that’s what I’m going to focus on in this post — where you currently ‘are’ as a leader, and the right support for you.
You’re a leader! Are you leading?
When you moved into a leadership role, it might have been because you showed some key leadership qualities. It also might have been because you were one of the best at what your organisation does (e.g., one of the most effective teachers, the best engineer, the most successful detective, or the most talented, client-focused hairdresser).
Either way, if you’re a leader, it might be worth reflecting on the following questions to see if you’re really leading:
- What type of leader are you?
- What were the qualities of your past, respected and admired, leaders?
- What are the agreed qualities of leaders in your organisation? What is expected of you as a leader?
- What type of leader does your team need and want? How do you know?
- In what ways are you empowering others around you who have the potential to become leaders?
- How many of your staff have leadership aspirations?
- Are you doing the work of your team, and as a result, holding them back from growing?
- What qualities are you looking for in your staff? Do they know what you’re looking for?
- What does your leadership role require of you?
- Should you be on the ground sometimes doing the work? Or should you remain in strategic spaces overseeing others to do the work? Why?
- Do others agree with you?
- Are you clear about your organisation’s strategic plan and goals, and can you help others to understand how their work contributes to these?
You lead a team! Is it a team?
Leading teams is complex. Time, workload, personalities, and change impact on your priorities as a leader. Regardless, you are likely part of a team of leaders, and you are also leading a team — whether they are leaders or people on the ground doing the work. You may want to consider the following questions to uncover any assumptions you might have about your team(s):
- Which team is your priority and why?
- What expectations do you have of teams and how they work together?
- Are some teams outperforming others? Do you know why?
- How do you support teams to manage their time and workload?
- Are team meetings boring with only one or two people talking most of the time? If yes, how can you change this?
- What levels of trust exist in the team? How are you fostering trust on an ongoing basis? Are people able to disagree, and do team members enjoy a good debate?
- How do you approach “difficult” personalities or step into “challenging” conversations?
Your team has goals! Are they ready for change?
All organisations have aspirations and goals. We are always seeking to improve what we do in any context. Aspirational goals mean ongoing change. Every leader needs to have a focus on leading change to some degree, and these questions will help you to uncover how you and others perceive change in your organisation:
- Do people believe that change is needed?
- Do all teams have clear goals that they had input into?
- Do all team members know that their team goals will often require them to be in a constant state of change in order to reach those goals?
- Which teams, or team members, appear to be stagnant and unchanging? Why?
- How do you support people who are finding change difficult? Do you support them differently to those finding change straightforward?
- What approaches are most effective when people are finding change difficult?
- Are you struggling with change while also being expected to lead change? How do you manage this?
Help! What might help you as a leader?
It’s important to choose the support that is going to work best for you and the people in your organisation. Do this by involving your other leaders and teams who will be receiving the support. These people are most able to say what issues they currently face. They are also the best people to critique the range of support available. In seeking support, consider the following questions:
- What are our issues and challenges?
- What have we tried?
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What bothers us the most?
- What hasn’t been tried yet?
- What support can be tailored for our context? To what extent?
- How often will we review this support to check that it is working?
You might not have all the answers to the questions in this post. With great leadership support you can find a range of solutions that best suit you and your organisation. That support can come in many forms, such as:
- Individual leadership mentoring/coaching
- Leadership Team mentoring/coaching
- Change leadership support and facilitation
- Teamwork and collaboration facilitation or mentoring (from building trust to communication to goal setting and conflict/debate strategies)
- Online courses combined with face-to-face, or virtual, support
- Support for coherent planning and action
- Online support such as Educational Leaders and NZC Online