How will you lead in 2013?

John Qiuincy Adams

Recently I came across this quote having first read it a number of years ago.  Once again it resonated strongly and led me to reflect on the leader I have been and the things I would like to change in the year ahead.  For me 2013 is all about creating and dedicating more time to playing an active role in the development of my team. There are a myriad of reasons why last year I didn’t; but if I’m completely honest with myself they are excuses.

Yes, I’ve been busy – very busy.  I’ve written two books, delivered major projects and grown my business.  This, together with my role as a mother and wife, means that my schedule has at times been extraordinarily busy.  However, irrespective of how hectic my life can be the fact remains that I have responsibilities to my team that in 2012 I didn’t fulfil to the extent that I needed and wanted to.

What (if anything) would you like to change or improve about your approach to leading your team in 2013? Are there things you would like to do more in the year ahead?  What about things you would like to do less of? As you reflect on the role you will play to influence the success of your team in 2013 I encourage you to contemplate the difference you can make to both the capabilities and spirit of your team. Consider where your greatest priorities lie and how you might approach your role to achieve the results you want to.

Without question both the capabilities and spirit of your team matter to success.    Inevitably an absence of capability and energy will yield substandard results. Equally, people who are capable but lack a strong spirit may achieve for a while but are likely to struggle to maintain it. Conversely it doesn’t matter how much enthusiasm and positivity someone brings, if they don’t have the knowledge, skills or experience required they are unlikely to achieve optimal results.

It’s important to understand that your team’s capabilities are only as valuable as the extent to which they are effectively applied to achieving the task at hand.  How each person chooses to behave dictates the extent to which they are able to apply their talents and in turn the strength of their spirit influences the choices they make about how to behave.  As a leader therefore your job is to build each person’s capabilities and nurture their spirit to influence their behaviour and enable them to achieve the best possible results.

The most important things you can do to nurture the strength of your team’s spirit are:

  1. Building a strong sense of personal value— ensure people on your team feel they add value and that their contributions are valued by others including you
  2. Influence quality relationships—support members of your team to build relationships based on mutual trust and respect
  3. Encourage purpose and meaning— ensure people feel fulfilled by and are proud of what they do and contribute
  4. Develop strength of belief— enable hope and confidence in the future including each person’s ability to influence their own future
  5. Enjoyment— make sure people enjoy doing what they do

The approaches you take profoundly influence the extent to which you are able to strengthen both the capabilities and spirit of your team.  Core to your success are these four key ingredients:

  1. Earn trust and respect: successful leaders understand that to directly influence passionate engagement and performance of their team, they need to be the kind of person others choose to follow. Trust and respect are non-negotiable prerequisites to having this influence.
  2. Lead by example: be the best possible example of what you want from other people on your team.  Never underestimate the impact of leading by example on your ability to earn and maintain trust and respect.
  3. Commit time and energy:  the purpose of being a leader is to lead.  If you don’t prioritise leading, how can you possibly fulfill your role? Be honest with yourself about how much priority you place on managing and developing your team. Be honest about how much time you spend focused on your own personal contributions rather than supporting members of your team to succeed.
  4. Collaborate and consult: the vast majority of people I have worked with or observed in business respond well to a manager that both consults and collaborates with them. Managers who demonstrate respect for the opinions and insights of their team are far more likely to earn the trust and respect needed to influence their capabilities and spirit.

How will you build your teams capabilities, nurture their spirit and tap into the depths of their potential in 2013?  What people leadership priorities will you set for yourself in the year head?

This article was originally published in GLOSS, the online magazine of the Little Black Dress Group on January 13th, 2013

LBDG Gloss

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