My name is Nick Evans, I am a graduate on the Charityworks programme as part of the 2014/2015 cohort. The idea of the programme is to mould the future leaders of the third sector through structured learning and development.
Leadership remains a vague concept, it has no hard and fast rules and a good leader wears many hats. Most people are familiar with Goleman’s concept of ‘emotional intelligence’ and its 5 defining factors but these are so broad and all-encompassing, they are hard to grasp when you are as inexperienced as a young professional. Therefore I am sharing some tropes of excellent leadership I have experienced in my brief career.
Be your own support act: The purpose of a support act at a gig is to warm the crowd up and get them wanting more. The best leaders I’ve worked under have started every work-related encounter warming their team up, whether that’s having a laugh and a joke or reporting on last week’s outstanding performance, they make sure their team is engaged before moving onto the agenda. Time may be pressing but if don’t take that extra 5 minutes to fire your team up at the 9am meeting, they’ll come away sluggish and demotivated.
There’s no such thing as ‘your best’: Goleman claimed that leaders are driven to achieve for achievement’s sake. The best leaders pass this trait onto their team. The best leader I’ve ever worked under would offer the most enthusiastic congratulations on a job well done with one hand while offering a bigger, more daunting challenge with the other. Good leaders will shape teams who are driven achieve and will never stop challenging them to do so.
A good leader wears many hats: I am happy to step outside my comfort zone, colleagues may not be. My colleagues may enjoy role-playing situations; I personally find it stilted and awkward. A good leader will be able to identify what every member of their team responds to and adjust their style accordingly. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach for managing people and the best leaders I’ve worked with have always had multiple ways of dealing with multiple people.
No ‘umming’ and ‘arring’: Both literally and figuratively. Nobody ever got anybody fired up by using filler words such as ‘like’ and ‘y’know?’ and good leaders think long and hard before they speak which rarely leaves them saying ‘ummm’. By extension, good leaders do not hither and thither, they make decisions and stick to them, even if you know that internally they’re in utter conflict. Nothing instils trust like seeing someone make a tough decision and not second-guess themselves.
Keep the faith: As a good leader instils trust, so too will they trust their team. A good leader is aware that a team is a reflection of themselves and should have the self-confidence that they’ve given their team all the resources they need and the faith that their team will do the best job that can possibly be done. This means stepping away from micro-managing, delegating tasks and allowing teams to work remotely. Trust goes both ways and managers have to make that investment in their teams.
Those are 5 (fairly) succinct examples of what good leaders have demonstrated to me and what I hope to one day embody.
Of course, nobody is perfect and sometimes your manager may not be giving you exactly what you need from them. Naturally you should pay some credence to seniority but you absolutely have to let your manager know if they need to work on some aspect of their role. This refers back to my point about teams being a reflection of their leaders; your manager is not just responsible for your development, you are responsible for theirs!
Nick is a graduate on the Charityworks 2014/2015 programme. You can also follow Nick on Twitter: @iamthenicktator