- What if, I develop a well-articulated and practical vision? This includes an understandable and executable strategy with clear targets and a related communications plan. I use sustainability not as a ‘fad’ word. I create a healthy business model, a healthy organisation with sustainable and scalable business results
- What if, ethics are not for now and then? I accept few things in business are as black and white as this. I create an ethical environment – This requires for me to be ethical ALL the time
- What if, I take personal accountability for the performance of the organisation and for the environment created? It is what it is – What I, but particularly what others see, is really where I got until now
- What if, I grow the people and therefore allow to grow myself – and make this one of my top-priorities? Healthy people like to grow, yes indeed every one. I couple becoming more self-aware with a desire to personally adapt and it will do miracles to my interaction with others
- What if, I too perhaps am challenged by “Serving” in a leadership context? If so, I remember that as a leader, I really will be limited to myself if I have not and will not serve the people in my organisation first and as best as I can. What can I really do on my own, without the collaboration of the team? To support this, I give trust and that is what I will receive. Particularly when the going gets tough my instilled confidence through serving will be a competitive advantage for the organisation
- What if, learning what I can and cannot do well is a good business and leadership trait? However, I know that focusing on what I can do well and surrounding myself with people, complementing what I cannot do well, is even better. Those leadership ‘experts’ who ask me to focus on my weaknesses and turn them into ‘strengths’, I will respectfully decline to work with them. I am happy with my uniqueness and the contributions I authentically can make by who I am – I will never try to be or become someone else
- What if, “Beware of what you become in the pursuit of what you want” (Jim Rohn) is quite applicable to me? A good test for this for me is to have an ‘outsider’ ask a few questions about me to my significant other and/or family members – I may be surprised to find out what I really have become? I realise that co-creating an environment holds true in every sense of the word – within and without a business context
- What if, diversity in today’s business environment at every level is essential to success? Is this reflected in my actions? Do I have the right people at the right place? How diverse has the organisation really become and what have I actively contributed to this? When it comes to making and managing decisions, am I really willing to go the proverbial extra mile and take business risks, acting upon supporting diversity?
- What if, the “Leadership Communication Trap™” is for real? I will prevent leadership isolation by continuous dialogue with others, for example through having a regular open office hour. I listen to team members during these times – I make an effort to do very little talking. If required, I treat my “tired ears and wilful blindness”. I realise that openness is created by being open. I make these hours worth every minute of my people’s and my time
- What if, I often remind myself of the statement: “I have never had an employee complain to me that he/she was over-communicated with”? I communicate and contribute to others’ communication actively – I quite well realise there is indeed very little I cannot and should not talk about. For example, I recently realised how difficult it is for people in the organisation to truly contribute to cost avoidance and profitability results, when they do not even have solid financial information and a good conceptual knowledge of the difference between “Cost” and “Price”?
- What if, I make meetings meaningful leadership events? How many standard and recurring meetings do I really need? Have I made a mapping of the communicative disruption of people’s time spend in recurring meetings? Can there be another way to promote communication than by setting up (recurring) meetings?
- What if, a team, starts with an idea and a goal in mind and the same team should dissolve as quickly as the task has been completed? How many ‘left-over’ teams do I have in the organisation that may have a morphed into a structured socialised get together?
- What if, I make innovation, collaboration and accepting ideas from everywhere more than words I use in meetings? I will do this by going beyond the proverbial ‘idea box’ and by creating a purposeful innovation capability architecture supported by leadership actions and commitment. From now on, I will integrate input from everywhere in the organisation and clearly show its usefulness, or when ideas are disadvantageous, explain why. In this process I realise, I must overcome my own fear of failing and the collective fear of failure of the entire organisation. I will support all this, within a healthy competitive environment to develop, evaluate and promote ideas executing upon the organisation’s strategy and resource allocation
- What if, leading is not doing what others do? I am aware of others’ activities and know this is a good thing – However, I know copying their actions is not leading. I accept that leading requires personal and inspired action, built upon vision and the guts for me to explore territories, going where other people necessarily may not have gone up till now. I enjoy the shear excitement when I do this with the team – This cannot be copied – I know from experience it generates energy, joy, business results and even more ideas
- What if, I actively liberate the people from as much bureaucracy as possible and develop trust in everyplace ideas by creating an inclusive people environment? I allow people to express ideas and suggestions freely and I model behaviour I would like to see in the environment. Talking the walk has rightfully replaced walking the talk. It is first up to me to do and then to talk with the people about the desired, modeled behaviour. What I ask from others, I really will do myself first
- What if, zero tolerance for bad behaviour really implies “zero tolerance”? From now on, I confront behaviour misaligned with the corporate values directly and act decisively when required. I will never forget that every one, particularly in these type of situations, is carefully watching my every step – I take accountability for the environment and accept this is shaped around and ‘up to’ the worst behaviour accepted in the organisation
- What if, I communicate as much ‘up’ as ‘down’ in the organisation and actively build trust through deliberate communication and behaviour, continuously focusing the organisation’s human and fiscal resources? Realising, people are non-linear, I will stop the memo’s/email hamster wheel I am on. I know these type of communications will have either no, or worse, adverse behavioural results. I will not treat people as I would like to be treated – I treat people as they like to be treated. I too know the feeling when heart based communication, is really heart based
- What if, I actively delegate with practical measurements and continuous communication? I now have come to the realisation that the more control I think there may have been put in place in the organisation, the higher the organisational operating risk has become, quality declined, communication fluidity evaporated and leadership influence diminished. I acknowledge that people’s growth and development comes from going through challenges in a leadership supported environment, not by being limited through over-control
- What if, I commit to keeping a workable knowledge of the business processes? This way, I will not be fooled when people project complexity as an excuse for successful action. I will also be able to appropriately contribute to discussions, if so required
- What if, when issues arise, I carefully review the situation, listen and learn first? I actively prevent from, either personally, or through one of the team members, fall into the trap and habit, of right away starting to blame others and their personalities for what went wrong. I take accountability – My own leadership contributed to the environment and has created a framework where performance can or cannot successfully be made. From now on, I will make it a habit of asking “Why” and “How”. I realise this is a much better start for a leadership learning moment than pointing a finger at some one else
This is my leadership contribution to you for now, quite well realising there is of course much more to say, including about the importance of becoming more self-aware and its relationship to successful leadership.
I hope the time you spend reading the above may result in personal reflection and may even propel you into working with some of these tips.
Personal reflection with an openness to personal adaptation, causes you to increase your self-awareness. A rare, yet indisputable essential trait of successful leaders.
What if, habitual changes are made one behaviour at a time?
Enjoy the process – leading is living.
Johan F. Reinhoudt
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