Our latest article in the Gulf Business magazine!
If you were to Google the sentence “How to become a better leader” you will find approximately 29,500,000 results! Obviously, there are countless articles and blogs written about leadership as well as experts sharing advice on becoming a better leader. It seems to us that the subject has been so dissected, that writing yet another article about it might sound repetitive or plain boring. So, we cannot see a valid reason in writing about what the “right leadership” skills would be.
The thing is, we are pretty sure that many of you have read books or articles on leadership on a regular basis, and you might even have taken several Leadership courses. And what were the results? Our guess is that if you are lucky, you might have learnt something new or alternatively, it was a good reminder of what you already knew. And whatever your takeaways, did you actually use them in your job? Our guess is that you most likely told yourself ‘This is great and very true, I should do this or I should apply that’ but the effort did not take, and you went back to your usual ways.
Old habits die hard! In a world where “being a better leader” is on every company’s agenda, why aren’t conventional solutions taking hold? Here is the thing, there is no magic to it, no miracle recipe to become a better leader, just as there is none to lose weight! Everybody wants to be fitter and knows what to do to get there: eat healthy and exercise, and yet many seem to be looking for a solution that is quick and effortless. Moreover, if the results are not immediate, one tends to simply give up. According to recent studies, it takes an average more than two months, 66 days to be exact, for a new behaviour to become habit. So, whilst everything you know about leadership is very relevant, doing something about it will require time and effort!
Accordingly, the question we would like to answer is not “How to be a better leader” but “How to activate your willingness to change.” Here are our 4 commandments to help you do so:
Commandment #1: Thou shall know thyself! Your strengths, weaknesses, needs, motivations, beliefs, values and what makes you tick – all these aspects trigger our habits and dictate our behaviours, what we are able and not able to do. To start the process to change, we must first know our starting point. Thus, self-awareness is the only way to activate self-development. Knowing all these aspects about yourself will give you the power to influence your attitude and behaviours to reach what you want to achieve. Leadership starts with you! Attitudes and behaviours have a direct impact on people around us, whether it is positive or negative. And being aware of that impact on others is key. You must question yourself, reflect and understand how you work as an individual as it will help you tune in and see yourself from different perspectives. This requires dedication and you will become your own catalyst..
Commandment #2: Thou shall have a purpose! So, you want to become a better leader. Well, for the sake of what? What is your main driver in seeking this change? A better pay? Is your organization telling you to do so? Maybe society dictates it? Leadership is not just a title or a label but a way of being. ‘A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still’. If you do not have a clear purpose for why you need to change, you cannot live that change. The best Leaders all have a sense of purpose, a deeper motivator and meaning to what they do which is beyond themselves. Without having a clear purpose your motivation will be lost. Ensure you have a purpose and understand why you’re doing this, or it will be difficult to put your thoughts in actual motion.
Commandment #3: Thou shall be vulnerable! We can already see you cringing on this one… Most people perceive vulnerability as being a weakness. On the contrary, vulnerability is a strength and is part of being human – your true self. When you let your guard down and be open, it establishes trust and respect with people around you and sets a strong foundation for communication at the workplace. Showing vulnerability means you might not have all the answers, but are transparent and can even admit that you can make mistakes. This creates a genuine connection with others, and an authentic culture where individuals will be able to have honest conversations, be accountable to each other, and learn from their failures. As a leader, you have to come to terms that you are not perfect and there is nothing wrong with letting yourself be ‘seen’.
Commandment #4: Thou shall decide to act!! Knowing the concept of what makes a great leader is good and having a purpose is great but these will only remain thoughts if you do not put them to action! Make it tangible and hold yourself accountable, whether it is writing them as goals or whatever works best for you. Commit to making a real change -,a change that is carried out through not only words but also actions.
There you have it – our 4 Commandments to lay the groundwork towards transformational change. The ten thousand mile journey starts with a single step. So, it doesn’t matter whether it is going to take you 66 days or more, what matters is that there is a will and a decision about becoming the best Leader you can be!