Leadership is always the problem and better leadership the only solution. As we face optimistically (if a little apprehensively) into an, as yet, untested new year, here are my five simple resolutions that will instantly make us all better and more effective leaders.
The 4 As of Great Meetings Everybody moans about meetings, but they moan for a reason: too many are, put bluntly, a waste of time. And worse, a wasted opportunity. Running effective and efficient meetings is crucial to your success as a leader, and it’s not hard to do; simply follow my 4As:
– Aim: What is the objective? Write it down – in the invite and in the room. – Attendance: Who needs to be there (and don’t have anyone there who doesn’t). – Agenda: What are the topics you need to cover? Link them to the Aim. – Actions: What happens next and whose responsibility is it?
Could I write a whole book about better meetings? Probably, but you don’t need to read it. Just follow the 4As (make sure your team does too) and you’ll instantly be a better leader with a more effective and efficient team. It’s that simple. Oh yes – and always finish on time.
Know what to ignore Many leaders feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks that lie before them, especially at this time of year. Everybody understands the concept of prioritisation, but while many find it relatively easy to decide which are the most pressing tasks – they find it very difficult to let go of the rest. The key to effective prioritisation is having the courage to ignore some issues liberating you to focus on what matters most. It may feel uncomfortable, unnatural and may even be unpopular with some; but it is the secret to fast and effective change. So, in 2022 accelerate your progress by deciding what you’re going to ignore.
Focus on results – not on being right I will often talk to a team after an unsuccessful tender process, and they will fume: We had the right answer – we just can’t believe the client couldn’t see it. (It’s often expressed in rather more agricultural language than this). The problem is, they have misunderstood the task. The objective is not to be right, but rather to win. These are, of course, not necessarily at odds with each other, but they are most definitely not the same thing. This is not an argument for blindly doing whatever is asked of you, it is an argument for accurately understanding the nature of the task before you, and if that is something you are willing to do. Don’t waste your time focusing relentlessly on being right when your actual objective is, always, to deliver results.
Learn something new In my experience, the best leaders are not the smartest, the most hardworking or the most liked, rather they are those who learn most quickly. And never has that been truer than today. Sir Clive Woodward describes himself as a sponge, who would travel to anywhere in the world to meet anybody, if he thought that experience could give him an edge. No learning is wasted, no experience useless, if you use it well. Learning should always be at the top of your to-do list – and definitely not just learning about leadership. Make 2022 the year you consciously set out to learn something new – it’ll make you a better leader, no matter what it is.
Give people the opportunity to surprise you The talent crunch isn’t going away any time soon, yet far too many organisations big and small are too conservative in how they maximise the talents and potential of their people. We all have too many rules and structures and processes. We need some, but the world has changed. Give people bigger opportunities, more stretch promotions, more responsibility (and, of course, reward) and some of them will amaze you. Not every decision you take will work out (that’s fine by the way, they never do), but people truly are what makes all organisations thrive, so push yourself out of your comfort zone by giving your stars more opportunity to shine.