Rob Redenbach, author of What I Didn’t Learn at Harvard, had Sydney’s senior accounting professionals on their feet and actively participating at our recent Business Seminar – this was not your typical leadership presentation! Through the many stories shared by Rob, 4 common traits exhibited by successful leaders emerged.
They write their own script
This message resonated loudly with the majority of the audience. Rob posed the question, “Are you a script writer or script follower?” and then went on to explain that there are people who follow scripts (managers) and there are those people who create the scripts – these are true leaders. He then illustrated that the obvious advantage to writing the script is that you are 2 steps ahead and have more control over the outcomes.
Rob also advised that in the process of writing your own script, it is extremely important to allow ‘editors’ to enhance your script through honest and constructive feedback. This is not about looking for compliments but instead, you need to seek a genuine understanding of where improvements can be made. To read more about scripts and script writing, I recommend Rob’s article Managers Follow Scripts. Leaders write them.
They are truly interested in people
They create an environment where their teams can succeed and they take the time to get to know the people who work for them. I once worked with a leader who had been with the company for a long-time. He held a number of roles over the years and ultimately was promoted to CEO. In an organisation of more than 1000 people, this leader always made time to say hello to everyone who worked for him and stop for a chat in the coffee queue. This was extremely critical in a period of organisational change as he gave the sense that he was approachable and genuinely interested and as a result was respected by the people working for him.
They walk the talk
As a leader, your success is determined by your actions and the environment that you create. Your team will not hear your words if there is a misalignment between what you say and what you do. Take a moment and reflect whether your actions mirror your words.
Consider this scenario – Senior executives have announced that the business needs to cut-costs and everyone needs to do their part. They will no longer host an annual Christmas party and any team lunches need to be funded by the team members themselves. However, employees observe that the executive team are holding a strategic leadership conference on Hamilton Island. This sends contradictory messages throughout the organisation and will result in employees feeling disengaged and resentful. Not a great outcome when you are trying to establish trust as a leader.
They bring out the best in people
Excellent leaders have high, yet realistic expectations of people. They create a warm, supportive environment creating the ideal conditions for their team to thrive. Investing time and providing constructive feedback have been linked to improvements in individual performance. Rob shares some great examples of this and the results of an interesting study conducted by Rosenthal in his article Expectation vs Entitlement.
There is a direct correlation between employee stress levels and the quality of the people in charge. You can find further information on this in our infograph Stress and the Sydney Accountant.
Recommended reading: Rob Redenbach Articles