Continuing the theme of lifting the cover on my new book, this week I want to use an article I came across in The Times newspaper over the weekend, focused on leadership. It was about Pippa Murray who started the company Pip and Nut in 2015. Her observation was around how she has had to develop as a leader moving from a company that started on her kitchen table where she did everything to one 6 years later with a team of 25 people.
She says, “As the business expanded, however, I learnt how much leadership matters. There is a point when it is no longer just about running the hard yards and working harder than anyone else. You start having to provide direction to your team and having tougher conversations.”
Pippa has discovered two things. Firstly, leadership matters. It is not just about a title; it is about girding up your courage and taking the lead. Secondly, it matters how you carry out your leadership.
Be who you are
As a leader you have to figure out what your voice is. You cannot lead as others do. You can read about good leadership, you can watch great leaders and hang out with them, but the most important piece to figure out as a leader is how you are going to lead by being yourself. That takes courage. It takes courage to take a long hard look at yourself and acknowledge the things in you that you know are not helpful and then do the hard work of figuring out how you will grow and evolve to be the best leader that you can be.
“What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths – and can call on the right strength at the right time.” Tom Rath
What Pippa has discovered, as her company has grown and expanded, is that you cannot do everything. Maximising results requires the leader to be working at what they are good at. Tom Rath is the author of “Strengthfinder 2.0” and has spent a good deal of his working life researching what makes a great leader. In his research he has discovered that we need to focus on our strengths and bring in others who will excel in areas where we are weaker.
What are your strengths?
Do you know what your strengths are?
Have you found your leadership voice?
What is the unique way you lead with authenticity and integrity?
These questions have to be answered if you are to have the highest impact and influence you can have as a leader. Some of the best leaders I know are those who understand their own strengths and then harness the strengths of others to build extraordinary teams. Of course, there will be things you cannot say no to. However, for the team to thrive you, as the leader, must play to your strengths and facilitate the bringing together of other strengths on the team so that the output of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. If someone else on the team can fulfil a given task 80% as well as you, then delegate the task unless it is integral to your function. You can then focus on those tasks most critical to your role.
Leaders respond well when they know who they are, know the extent of what they can do and then call for help from others as needed. The time we live in, where change is rapid, requires leaders who understand that leadership matters, who know their own strengths and the strengths of others, and who are able to combine both into extraordinary teams.
Finally, leaders provide direction. Leaders need to be clear on where they are going. It is difficult to follow someone if they don’t know where they are going.
Next week I will lift the cover on vision – the leader must see clearly.
Photo by S Migaj from Pexels