Traditional views of leadership focus on personality and the importance of a compelling vision. However, we now know that effective leaders have diverse qualities – and personality traits are not a particularly good predictor of success. Instead, we can focus on developing the behaviour that helps build employee motivation, particularly the support and guidance provided by managers.
Important leadership qualities linked to high performance include setting clear direction, maintaining personal conviction, acting with integrity, and building positive relationships. Charisma is not essential, and can easily contribute to less-effective decision-making. However, clarity of purpose and personal conviction do make a difference. Managers can develop the behaviour that enable them to become more-effective leaders. Not everyone will be charismatic, but it is possible to display conviction, and develop the type of approach that increases the motivation of team members.
The first-step in development involves raising self-awareness. This can be linked to conversations with purpose that encourage feedback, and discussion of new ways of doing things. Being aware of limitations in your own thinking encourages Balanced Processing of information, which is one of the corner-stones of effective leadership. 360 Degree Feedback is an important tool in the process.
360 degree feedback is used by many organizations and enables managers to receive feedback from various groups. An in-depth report compares the manager’s self-assessment with feedback from others. This information is particularly useful in the context of coaching and self-development.
Purposeful Conversations with AIMS
Building on 360 degree feedback, there is great potential for managers to use ‘Purposeful Conversations’ with AIMS to help improve role clarity and involvement of team members. This serves to strengthen motivation and an underlying sense of shared purpose. There are four essential elements, which can be summarised as follows:
Active listening and understanding of alternative views contributes to Balanced Processing of Information. However, this needs to be combined with Insight…
To develop a sense of shared purpose, other people’s ideas or concerns should be discussed in the context of wider objective and priorities. Issues may need to be considered in the context of what is happening elsewhere, or why change is necessary. This leads on to the third element…
People have a strong underlying need to identify with their work and see it as meaningful. Understanding why tasks are important, and having the opportunity to make suggestions, helps build a sense of shared purpose. This is important in unlocking discretionary effort and commitment.
Maintaining high performance over time often means that people need support. This may involve ensuring sufficient resources and training is provided. Regular review discussions (even 5 minute ‘coffee conversations’) are in themselves a way of providing support.
Raising self-awareness through work preference profiling can be the first step in creating insight and cascading Purposeful Conversations with AIMS through the organization.