3 Reasons You Need To Adopt A Strategic Approach To Leadership

3 Reasons You Need To Adopt A Strategic Approach To Leadership

In Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Twelfth Night, Malvolio famously said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em”, and when it comes to leadership in the modern world, that statement is just as true!

Even if you don’t yet have a job title to match, good leadership and being a good leader will help you to create impact and progress your career.

This blog gives you a tiny preview into Elevate Talents webinar series on strategic leadership; even though we support women in mid-level executive positions, we deliver at least two leadership sessions a year. It’s a day-to-day skill that you need to master if you want to reach your career aspirations.

Here are three of the main reasons you might like to upgrade your self-image and develop your own leadership skills and style:

-1- Even if you are “born great” and have actively been a leader from a young age (the child in the playground creating your own unique game and getting others to join in and play it!), it’s important that you become aware of how you behave as a leader, and how others perceive you, so that you know your team feels the support and guidance you believe you are offering.

-2- Some people “achieve greatness”: many of today’s leaders have risen up through the ranks due to time served. However, they are often operating from an old paradigm and are likely modelling behaviours they have seen before.

Traditional leadership styles have revolved around command, control and authority, but today’s workforce doesn’t respond well to that! There’s a strong call for leaders to cultivate a more inclusive mindset and work culture.  

Exclusion is incredibly damaging. One of our coaching clients at Elevate Talent shared her experience of a new boss who jumped to a conclusion about who the top performers were and excluded her. 

Her boss said that her work didn’t impress him, and as a result she has been kept out of the information loop; without those business insights, she has made a couple of mistakes. These issues could easily have been resolved if her boss had included her from the beginning; and then if, and only if, after several meetings she was not actively adding or extracting value from them, he could have addressed the situation.

Some leaders actively create a competitive work culture with an inner circle to keep team members “hungry and fresh”, but if that leads to exclusion, it’s not a healthy work environment. If you feel edged out by a leader, the chances are you’re not the only one; find others who feel the same and look for someone in the inner circle who can convey relevant information back to you so that you can perform at your best.

Why there’s demand for compassionate leadership

As human beings, we are all different in terms of resilience, reaction and response times. Leaders are being encouraged to pay more attention to the wellbeing of team members, without expecting everyone to conform to one mode of behaviour.

The old-school style is to patronise people, expect them to brush their feelings aside and “get over’ issues that arise, but often these feelings are factory settings that have been installed from a young age. For instance, if two children fall over, one might cry for an hour while the other will run off and play. As adults, we benefit from respectful, tailored support so that we can perform at our best and enjoy our career!

-3- If greatness is “thrust upon” you and you step up to “official” leadership status, others rely on you for guidance and direction. You need to demonstrate that you know what you’re doing; if you’re leading but no one is following, you’re just going for a walk! Do the groundwork so that you are ready to lead the way.

What to do if you are experiencing poor leadership

The following list is a good starting point:

  • Remember that you have agency over your actions. Don’t let someone else’s poor behaviour dictate yours. Check out our earlier blog from the art of leadership series What It Takes To Become A Great Leader (And Why It Starts With You) and Busting The Myths Of What It Really Takes To Be A Great Leader.
  • Where there is exclusion, look for an opportunity to get your foot back in the door and keep it there until it opens more fully. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s work was rejected by 12 different publishing houses before she was catapulted to phenomenal success by Bloomsbury Publishing. Keep plugging away.
  • Accept that you might achieve your outcome via a different route to the one you originally thought would work. Your boss might come to recognise the merit of your work, or they might just get sick of your constant requests (after all, the squeaky wheel gets the oil)!
  • Recognise that you can’t change somebody else, but you can change how you approach that person. If you aren’t getting the outcomes that you want, be persistent (not just once or twice!); and if all else fails, adopt a new tactic.
  • Learn by contrast, and when you see poor leadership in action, work out what you would do differently to be a strong, respected and supportive leader.
  • Avoid wasting your time or energy complaining; actively seek solutions. 

If you think your leader is falling short, I hope you’ve found this blog reassuring. More importantly, I hope it has encouraged you to actively see yourself as a leader and take ownership of your contribution at work.

If you’d love to find out more about the online programmes that Elevate Talent offers so that you can progress your career and live a life you love, please get in touch.

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