Several years ago there was an article in the Harvard Business Review that really stuck with me. It was about an individual moving into a new managerial job and what it would take to become a great leader of that new organisation versus just an adequate leader.
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While the author went into a whole bunch of different issues related to the topic, what I took away, when I blended it with my own set of battle scars from decades in the business world, was a basic framework for thinking about the key dimensions of a leader’s role. Here is a brief sketch of what I am talking about:
Where are we going and how are we going to get there?
Members of the organisation need to know what is expected of them collectively and individually. This means there should be a clear understanding by everyone of what the overall organisation is trying to achieve. Also, each member should have clear goals and responsibilities.
Have you gained the trust of your people?
You gain people’s trust by first being competent in your job. This means getting out of your office and learning from your people how things work and what the challenges are.
You should be asking tons of questions and learning the ropes from not only the people in your organisation, but also from the organisation’s customers (be they internal or external) and the peers you will be dependent upon.
Second, people need to believe in your character. Are you in the game only for your own benefit, or are you really interested in improving your organisation’s contribution and growing your people. It is amazing how quickly people can sense which is the case.
Do you have a good working relationship with those you are dependent upon?
It is usually the case that your organisation is not completely self-sufficient and independent. There are likely to be peer organisations that you are highly dependent upon to achieve your goals. You need to spend plenty of time with the leaders of these organisations, understanding their needs and explaining yours.
Your peers will sense quickly whether you are motivated by the overall good of the organisation and that can cause you to have much more productive relationships with them.