How do you think about your role as a leader? What is your mindset?
Those were the questions Jennie West-Correia of Stratford Group asked the crowd at the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada’s Emerging Leaders Conference held recently in Mississauga, Ont.
“I want you to start thinking about what are your goals around the leader that you are currently or what you’re striving to be,” said West-Correia.
“What if I show up every day and my mindset, my job is to create conditions of success for the people around me? What if my job every day as their leader, their boss, their supervisor, their manager is to create conditions of success so they thrive so they excel? If I have no direct reports, nobody that I supervise or manage, think about the people that you work alongside with every day, your colleagues on your projects, people from other departments that you have to interact with.”
A core component of effective leadership is trust.
“It’s like building a house,” said West-Correia. “Where do we start? The foundation…Over time what happens if we don’t pour the foundation? It starts to collapse.
“In leadership, I propose that the foundation is trust. Just pause right now and ask yourself do I trust the people that I lead? Do they trust me?”
Self-awareness makes strong leaders
Elevated leaders know themselves.
They know what they are strong at and what their gaps are, she explained. She shared some tips for improving self-awareness and reflecting. She said leaders need to ask themselves where they are in terms of their own self-awareness.
“The lens for today is how self-aware am I in terms of the leadership that I bring and how I’m showing up as that leader,” she noted.
Soliciting feedback is an important element of this.
“Here is the trick with asking for feedback that actually gives you some meaty information that you can actually use to round out your self-awareness and get better at what you do: make it about them,” said West-Correia, adding it’s important to be specific in how you ask for feedback. “As emerging leaders, when you start asking for feedback from people who are reporting to you, if trust isn’t built, the may be reluctant in giving you the feedback. They may be telling you what you want to hear.”
The second thing is stay observant.
“If you are self-aware, you’ve got to ask yourself…especially when things go bad, when you’re frustrated, you’ve got an underperformer, when you’re dealing with someone whose behaviour is not ideal, ask yourself this question: How did I contribute to this?” said West-Correia. “As you emerge in your leadership, this is one of the most self-reflective questions that you can ask yourself as you stay observant and pay attention to poor performance, bad behaviour, to unmotivated workers.”
What will that do?
“If I’m brave enough to ask myself that question…it starts me thinking of, ‘Was I clear in my expectations? Did I make any assumptions that this person knew what they were doing or was trained properly or had the material or the resources?”
Rewind: Would you do anything different?
Play the redo game was her third piece of advice.
“You’re in a meeting with a whole bunch of trade partners, stakeholders about your project, about your business. You leave your meeting and you walk away.
“All the re-do game is as you walk from the meeting to your truck or your office, it takes seconds to play this game. (Ask yourself), ‘If I hit rewind and I go back, would I do anything different in that meeting?’ And I push you to ask yourself it in two parts: What would I do the same and what would I change? We can go back sometimes, we can actually rewind and redo. Good leaders do.”
Validate others is also key.
“When we think about great leaders, we think about leaders that are intentional, forward-focused and strategic,” West-Correia said. “They are not assuming things, they’re finding out, they’re validating.”
In leadership we should not be following the golden rule which is treat others the way you would like to be treated, West-Correia said.
“Elevated leaders need to follow the platinum rule: Treat others the way they need to be treated,” she said. “If you think about this in leadership, this is suggesting lead others the way you like to be led. Are you working with and leading clones of you? No, we are leading a diverse workforce of unique individuals.
“We have to learn to be agile and adapt,” she added “Consider how do they like to be communicated to, what motivates them. What motivates Harry might be different than what motivates Sally.”
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