As a member of the Women Unlimited community, I know I don’t need to ask you whether you have thought about what you want to achieve and create in 2019.
Many of us took the opportunity between Christmas and New Year to draw breath, open those pristine new planners (if you still prefer paper, old school style, like me) and capture or refine our dreams and goals for the next twelve months.
Reflecting on 2018 and considering the learning experienced from working with my clients, I remembered a distinction I had made, which is worth considering when creating and working towards new goals.
Much of our planning and goal setting is focused on process: how can we bring in more revenue, increase our client base, increase our reach in social media?
We want statistics we can measure and analyse to improve our bottom line and fine tune our focus, to generate better results. Of course, all of these elements need to be considered, if we are to run a successful business, rather than an expensive hobby – but are they the most important focus?
We don’t have to follow the same rules
There are many ‘successful’ businesses out there who adhere to these elements as a priority – and a large number of us have left them, to start our own businesses.
Why? From my perspective it is because when we focus solely on process and statistics, our organisations lose heart and gradually become dehumanised, treating employees like collateral, rather than people.
I was very interested to hear a representative from PWC mention analytics when he spoke at the Agile Business Consortium Conference in September, last year.
He said that statistics were meant to be used to assess areas that needed attention or development, not to be used as a bench mark to measure success or failure.
Use statistics wisely
This confirmed what I had sensed and experienced, as an employee, a business owner and a consultant. You can have the best processes and strategies in the world but if your teams aren’t onboard they won’t create the results you want.
Where teams are disengaged, they will come to work, do a mediocre/ reasonable job and go home to enjoy their family and social life. They may cut corners if they think they can get away with it and are unlikely to go the extra mile for the business.
What makes an effective leader?
The most effective leaders I have worked with, to date, are those who embody the characteristics that will get results (BE) rather than focus on statistics and process (DO). They inspire their teams to be more creative, trust they have the skills and support to do a great job, give them flexibility and appropriate autonomy and create a sense of positive anticipation about the future, without ignoring the challenges being faced.
In an earlier career, I was long haul cabin crew, for British Airways. There were numerous occasions when we have to be innovative on board an aircraft, as there was no possibility of ‘popping out’ to replenish supplies or adding a few more seats to a cabin, so that a family could sit together on a full flight.
The most respected and liked Cabin Service Directors were those who were prepared to support their team, would flex the rules when appropriate, were cheerful, positive and as hard working as any of the main crew.
We would go above and beyond our basic duties to make sure the customers and the rest of the crew were well looked after with a leader of that calibre.
When you are operating a flight that has been delayed for hours at an outstation with no substitute crew, you need a team who are prepared to deliver at a high standard, despite their personal frustrations and fatigue. That sort of environment will test whether you really walk your talk, as a leader.
Focus on the right things
Often we focus on processes and statistics because they are just easier. People can be tricky, illogical and unpredictable but if we don’t focus on the people element, the best systems in the world will fail.
Just because we are in a leadership role we are not super-human and it takes strength of character, commitment, flexibility and graciousness to manage our teams.
So, it’s who we are BEING rather than what we are DOING that will have the most significant influence, as a leader.
Food for thought.
In part #2 of this article, we’ll look at some elements that will enable us to BE that effective leader.