Right now there are a number of challenging and significant issues that this generation of leaders need to grapple with — at work, at home, and in the community. They are all interconnected and systemic in nature, each one impacting on the other. Strategic leadership is more important than ever before. Not only to improve the performance of organisations, but also to create empowering, healthy and safe work places.
So what is strategic leadership? How can leaders prepare themselves to think strategically, as well as building empowering team cultures that put a spring in the step of their people?
Strategic leadership boils down to some timeless qualities that are central to Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading Teams, Leading Strategically, and Leading Organisations (or communities). Over the coming weeks, I’ll have a go at sharing my views and experience, beginning with a few words around Leading Self, as the first step.
Leading Self is about being authentic. Having good values. Being generous of spirit. Being prudent. Expressing gratitude. Being patient. Persevering. Saying sorry. Delivering on your word and your promise. Doing the right thing. Having the courage to be tough when necessary. Showing compassion to others. Being kind to yourself. Keeping healthy in both mind and body.
In a nutshell: being a good person and staying in good health emotionally as well as physically. Qualities that are derived from working on self, effective mentoring, and some self-discipline (easier said than done, I agree).
Matters to be mindful of:
- It takes years to build the respect and trust of others (a leadership brand), and only a few minutes to destroy it. Leaders are being watched and assessed 24/7, even when shopping at the supermarket, having a meal at a cafe, or posting on Twitter.
- None of us are perfect. Don’t measure yourself against Selfie Leaders on social media — they will always look and sound better. Be true to yourself. Trust in yourself. Be your best and keep learning and growing. Find a mentor who will give you honest feedback and wise guidance. Know that you are more than good enough.
- Leadership is something you should be enjoying. If you haven’t been enjoying your work over a prolonged period, despite best endeavours, do yourself a favour and find another role or place to work. It’s just too unhealthy to battle on, both for you and for those you are leading. Without passion, you can’t engage your team or make things happen. Life is too short to spend 75% of your waking working week doing something that’s not enjoyable or adding value.
In the next volume of this series, I will share my thoughts on Leading Others. In the meantime, I hope this this musing provides you with food for thought and serves to inspire any form of meaningful change.
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” – Nelson Mandela