There are things that one needs to give up in order to be an effective leader.
With Herman Mashaba resigning as the Mayor of Johannesburg and Mmusi Maimane resigning as the leader of the DA, there is clearly some turmoil amongst some our country’s political leadership structures. Given our current economy, South Africa is relying on its leaders to change things for the better.
Leadership is defined as getting results through the efforts of others and is stated as a verb in the dictionary, which means it should be associated with action. In order to be an effective leader, you need to be prepared to let go of some of your habits, comforts, time and you are very often required to give more in other ways that might not have been expected of you if you were just an employee or community member.
As an experienced recruiter, MD, and woman in the business world, I know all too well how much one must give up in order to be an effective leader. I also know that this is not something I can put on my business card. I can’t say that I am a dynamic leader in my bio or on my business card. It can be a lonely journey because we all fear reaching out when we feel we are experiencing leadership challenges and our staff need us to motivate them and be confident even when we feel a little overwhelmed.
There are things that one needs to give up in order to be an effective leader and this can be hard to hear for some but you have to give up the need to always be right and try to strike a balance between being an expert and offering advice.
I have found it helps to offer support to those around me without it coming across as a know-it-all. I truly believe that I can learn from everyone around me too – sometimes I am the expert but there are many times when someone else has more value to give and I can actually learn, take that information and share it in a way that has a positive impact on other areas of our business.
It can be a thankless role
Recognition may be the last thing on your mind because you are too busy building up capability and confidence in those around you to reaslise you need a pat on the back as well. It can be a very thankless situation. My suggestion would be to find one or two people who you have a very close relationship with and have a confidential bond with that you can share your triumphs with; these people are the ones who truly understand your business and should be able to push, praise and pat you on the back.
If you report to a board, ensure that you acknowledge your staff and the hard work of those around you – if they are leaders within their own rights, they will understand that you lead your company or team to achieve those results.
Distractions are never beneficial, so I try to turn off my digital alerts. I lead tight team meetings and I encourage my staff members to do the same. Working in an open plan office makes me accessible and ensures that I am part of the team, helping everyone to see how I operate.
Focus is paramount to leadership and everyone picks up on distraction so your ability to maintain focus is crucial. You need to be strategic when it comes to time management. Be approachable but also be strict with your time. My biggest challenge as a leader has been to build an incredible team around me that doesn’t need to be micro-managed and then letting them do their thing. But now that I have that, everyone knows that I am available to them but they also know that I trust them to do their portion of the job because they are the best at it. I have to often remind myself to step back and watch the magic unfold.
Good leaders accept change
As a leader, you are ultimately responsible for your team and they need to be replicating the world that you live in. Their performance is a direct reflection of yours and you must own it in every possible way, remaining accountable. You can never avoid taking the blame if something goes wrong and you need to be able to quickly identify any issues and help your team to fix it without it having an impact on the overall performance of your business. If your team sees that you are proactive, they will put in the extra effort to ensure that things are done right and be accountable with you.
One of the biggest areas in which a good leader excels is in accepting change and not fearing it because if you prioritise talent retention and develop your employees, they will grow with your company. Take deliberate action towards improvement, anticipate change or growth within the company and get ahead of it because you are fortunate to lead a company, team or the people around you. Leaders are change agents, they have to be critical of themselves too and ensure that they are focused on the very best outcome.They have to see potential growth and accept defeat at times but it is truly a privilege and an art – if you are prepared to be better than your previous self and grow, you will have a greater impact on the world as a leader and we really need more of these in our beautiful country.