David and Sue were discussing how you can build a small city out of the number of books published on leadership.
If you google the word leadership, you get 3,840,000,000 results in an instant. There’s a lot of opinions out there and numerous people searching for the right way, the one way, the most effective way to lead.
Maybe the volume of opinions out there tells us that there being a ‘right way’ is a fallacy or maybe there’s a completely different way to think about the subject. If you ask people how they’d like to be lead, or even ask yourself, you gain much more consistency in the answers. People generally talk about the things they want from their leaders being:
• honesty and fairness
• a sense of purpose they’re doing worthwhile work
• a sense of achievement and recognition
• opportunities to develop and grow
• trust and empowerment
• consistency in accountability e.g. in performance management
• a sense of humility and authenticity
I’m sure as you read this list, you thought of items you could add. But what’s really important here is that if leaders want to know the best way to lead, they need to ask the people who are being lead what they want. I’ve often heard people saying, ‘Hello, I’m your new boss. This is what you can expect from me.’ Instead, it should be, ‘Hello, I’m your new boss. What do you want from me?’
It may seem daring to ask your people what they want. It isn’t. You’re not agreeing to it all, it’s about starting the discussion and seeing what key themes arise. A safe way to gain input on how you lead, from those who you’ve been working with for a while, can be 360° feedback, especially focusing on those people you lead. Honestly, for those of you who’ve undertaken 360° feedback recently, were your eyes drawn to the feedback from your people or from your boss?
At Rambutan, we’re big fans of 360° feedback (as it’s vitally important to gain feedback from your people) to the extent that we’ve developed our own 360° feedback tool, Rambutan Evolve.
So back to the original question: Is there a ‘right’ way to lead? If there is, then only your people can tell you what it is. Find a way to ask them.