What makes a good leader?

By Kath Baker, Skills Advisor for the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub.

 A couple of years ago I attended an Equine facilitated leadership training session.  This course was a real eye opener, it gave me a whole new view on leading with impact and being authentic as a leader, and what effect my own personal communication methods can have.

The course I went on focused on horses and how I could use non-verbal communications methods to lead the horse. This made me so much more aware of my body language and how this could be interpreted, not just by horses, but also colleagues and friends.

With this in mind, it really does bring home the fact, managing people is such a challenge in busy working environments, filled with policies, procedures, rules and regulations. Managers trying to manage people and forever under pressure to achieve results, they may wonder why their team do the things they do, why a certain member of staff behaves the way they do, and then how they keep them motivated and retain the good people on top of all this.

It’s not easy, especially to a new manager promoted without any real support in understanding this ‘softer’ side of managing people. Training courses on the many, many management subjects can help, but none of these may work in isolation. Understanding the fundamentals of communication first, to establish the environment of mutual trust and respect is the greatest gift a manager has.

Leading people is as hard if not harder than leading horses. When a horse no longer feels the connection and the leader hasn’t got their attention then they simply stop following and look away., With people it’s not so obvious, and managers may only find out they have disengaged when it’s too late, or the impact has happened.

Many times, managers have meetings, chats, one to ones, reviews, ‘performance reviews’ and other ways to communicate with their staff.  How do they really know their staff are truly engaged?  They may be saying the right things, or the member of staff may seem to be attentive, but often things go back to how they were, or the staff morale can remain low or disengaged.

Worse still key members of staff leave.  Obviously, there are lots of reasons why staff may leave, recent research shows that one of the biggest reasons staff leave organisations is lack of recognition or attention from their manager.

So, in the working world leaders and managers need to recognise and manage the subtle signs that they may not have the full attention or engagement of their teams, aside from what is discussed or voiced.  A person can be looking at them and nodding in the right places, but the manager has no idea they are already disengaged, not interested, or lack motivation.

So, leading with authenticity – in other words being real, emotionally intelligent, and able to communicate with effect to generate an environment of trust, respect and the will to succeed is a real management skill, that can be learned and developed very successfully.  Once that skill is demonstrated, it results in a focussed team and a manager who spots the signs of disengagement before it is too late.

So next time a member of staff smiles and nods and looks engaged, how do you know they really are?

To find out more about support available for managing people, training and developing your workforce and growing your business,  visit https://www.scrgrowthhub.co.uk/ Or call our Gateway team on 03330 00 00 39.