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Learning to lead your leaders

November 1, 2016

As a business owner, you’re also a business leader. And therefore, in order for your start-up to grow and develop beyond a one-man-band, there will come a time when you need to be able to lead other leaders within your business.

To do this successfully, you’ll need to develop a whole new set of skills and ways of operating because leading leaders is not simply a question of knowing what needs to be done and telling others to do it.

Instead, you will have to guide those leaders and inspire them to inspire their teams to deliver the results you need. When you can do that – you are a Super Leader.

To help you become a leader of leaders, in this article, Jean Gamester reveals 3 key steps, you’ll need to take;

For the past five years, I have played a role in training “Super Leaders to be” at Toastmasters International. And, at the same time, I also run my own business helping other businesses make change happen and get the best out of their people.

A key part of both of these roles is to help the leaders of those businesses achieve through others.

If your business grows then you may have teams, departments, or other branches, or even spin-offs, that are managed (i.e. lead) by others – and you need to lead those leaders. To help you do this, here are my three top tips, based on some of my favourite leadership books, to become a Super Leader.

1. Ditch the detail and lead with authority

In his book “Leadership that Gets Results” Daniel Goleman talks about the effectiveness of a range of leadership styles. The most powerful style is “The Authoritative Style”. This focuses on inspiring people to join together to achieve a goal.

The leader describes the outcome and elicits buy-in to that outcome, but leaves the method to the leader on the ground.  Super Leaders ask them questions about what would help them achieve rather than giving them our own answers.

When I am running change programmes, I know that my top job is to build a team of people who have the ability to drive action themselves as well as the openness to take guidance.

As Super Leaders our job is to inspire those change leaders and give them the mentoring and the support required to make that happen.

We will struggle to do that if we give them detailed instructions of what they need to do at each minute in each circumstance – firstly we don’t have the time and access to micro-manage them and secondly, it denies them the opportunity to use their own strengths and to develop themselves to achieve the goal their way.

When we rise above the day to day and energise our people to focus on how they can get their people to find ways to achieve the goal, then we can all grow, we can all play a role in achieving.

2. Create a learning environment

In “Legacy”, James Kerr’s wonderful tribute to the All Blacks rugby team, he describes how they manage consistently to lead the world in their sport.  One of his key focus areas is about creating a learning environment.

He believes “Leaders are Teachers”. When we seek to help our leaders make things happen, we need to build a relationship of trust between us and them, so that we can coach them and give them feedback.

For example, in Toastmasters, we are already pretty good at giving feedback – it is how we create world class speakers.

The magic starts by having an environment where it’s normal for people to be giving each other feedback. In other words, we have permission from each other to help each other to get better.

Next it is in closely and objectively observing what people are doing and in identifying what they do well. The aim is to them reinforce and celebrate this. Only then, do we begin to provide tips for how they can be more successful in the future.

As we are continuously taking action and continuously receiving feedback, we get better and better at what we do.

RELATED: 3 Ways to create a culture of learning, not blaming, in your business

3. Work to strengths, fill the gaps

The third book I would recommend is “Strengths Based Leadership” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. Their message is that we should stop sucking the energy out of ourselves by trying to fix everything we are not good at.

Instead, let’s work out what we are good at, get really really good at those things, and build teams around us of people who have the other skills we need.

I’ve just spent a planning day with the incoming leadership team of an organisation I am working with. I’ve been helping them to prepare to be the Super Leaders of their company. What we found was that between them they have a huge range of strengths – some of them have fantastic skills in driving action, some in relationship building, some in developing strategy.

We also found that although they all have great strengths, they tended to be less inclined to be analytical, so they recognised that they needed to make sure that they find others as part of their extended team who can play that role for them.

Being a Super Leader

Leading leaders is a lot harder than being a leader on the ground. We need to not only have developed the skills to do that front line leadership, we need to be able to support others to do it, without constantly interfering!

That requires great emotional intelligence – the ability to understand and manage ourselves as well as the ability to understand and manage our relationships with others.

To achieve success, lets lead with authority and create a learning environment. Let’s work to our own strengths, and the strengths of those we lead.

About the author

This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Jean Gamester. Jean is founder and director of consulting business, Semaphora, where she delivers change programmes and helps organisations to make change happen. She is also a volunteer leader with Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.

Jean is a regular contributor to ByteStart, and her other articles include;

More on starting and leading your own business

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