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Leadership is all about vision, inspiring your team of well-trained staff and delivering results through them, says Ann Elliott of marketing...

Leadership is all about vision, inspiring your team of well-trained staff and delivering results through them, says Ann Elliott of marketing consultants Elliott People

I was listening to a well-known chief executive of a major pub company the other day. He told me that his area managers, on the whole, lacked leadership skills. The impact of this gap was being felt at pub level, where few team members were prepared to be held accountable. He believed this was impacting directly on his customers and would ultimately affect his sales.

If his operators were finding leadership difficult, it wasn't surprising that his licensees also found it a major challenge. The main issue here lies in developing and nurturing leadership skills in the area managers and within their teams. There are three key aspects to leadership.

Three leadership principles

l Being guided by the future you want

l Engaging others

l Delivering through others

Whatever the situation, an effective leader imagines where they want to be, brings others along to help willingly, and helps them build that future. How can that work in our world?

1. Being guided by the future

A leader must have a vision of "where to?" He or she needs a clear idea of what they want to achieve in the future - this is not about meals sold today or labour costs this week.

Their leadership will be much stronger if this sense of the future is connected to what they care about. For a licensee it could be about winning an award, achieving a sales or profit target, negotiating a target price for their lease or delivering outstanding customer service. If a licensee cannot create a vision of a future for themselves, maybe the time has come for them to consider a different sort of life.

The more energy and commitment a leader has for the future they have decided they want, the more likely they are to be able to keep going and to bring others with them.

It's very easy to dismiss our view of a future we don't know how to create by saying, "I don't see how we can do that, so let's not bother." And each of us applies limiting beliefs to ourselves, habit or lack of experience leading us to think, "I've never been good at that" or, "I don't want to fail, so I'm not going to try."

So, many managers tend to set their sights low. But true leadership is linked to confidence, courage and boldness - it goes beyond what seems safe.

For operators, the pull of the present is enormous and today's issues and problems are right in their faces. In the face of such pressure, the future they want can easily be lost unless they consciously stay connected with it. When the present pulls them back into the short-term issues and the detail, they can lose sight of the big picture very quickly.

The leader has to be the one who is best at taking a step back, seeing the big picture and keeping it alive.

In leader mode, your thinking and behaviour are guided by the future.

2. Engaging others

Leaders engage others so that they can create a future together. Engaging is different from communicating with, telling or presenting to. It involves an interaction - a two-way experience. It invites a sense of ownership. Listening is every bit as important as speaking.

The second key word here is "want". The best leaders win real commitment from others, rather than grudging compliance. To be fully effective, a leader needs to engage people in themselves - and achieving this requires qualities in the leader such as integrity, openness and consistency.

It doesn't matter whether you are a licensee managing a team of three or a regional operations director responsible for a team of 95 - the principles are exactly the same.

The benefit of engaging others is that they will bring their best to any task - they don't just go through the motions or try to get away with minimum standards - they want to become future leaders. Engaging others builds momentum through an organisation, whether it's the Rose & Crown or a massive company.

In engaging others, leaders run the risk of feeling exposed and being rejected. Few of us have ever had real training in this area and can find it awkward, embarrassing or even threatening. It can seem easier to use hierarchical power to win compliance. However, constant practice of leadership skills produces results.

A licensee who really wants to become an effective leader, rather than a manager, can start by considering:

l Who are the key players I want to work with to create the future I want?

l Which relationships will not help me build that future?

l What could I do to build those relationships?

In order to engage at your optimum level, there is a part of you that you must become aware of - your shadow. At times, each of us casts a shadow that raises or lowers the energy of those around us. Does this sound familiar?

Try thinking about someone who walks into your pub and makes you instantly feel that your energy levels have fallen. You feel drained, even before a word has been uttered. Now try thinking about someone you have worked with who has lifted your spirits, sometimes by just being there. Effective leaders learn how to manage their own shadow and the impact that negative aspects of their personality can have on those around them.

Next time you visit a pub or a restaurant, consider the impact of its team on your spirit and sense of goodwill. You will immediately understand how some people have a positive effect on others and some definitely do not.

Questions leaders need to consider are:

l How well do you know how it feels to be around you?

l What type of shadow do you cast, and when?

And this brings us back to your relationships. You need "grown-up" relationships with those around you for them to be willing to give you feedback on the type of impact you have on others. Consider who might give you that sort of feedback on a regular basis.

3. Delivering through others

Ultimately, this aspect of leadership is about:

l Delivery

l Performance

l Execution

l Results

This is where the work you undertake on the two previous aspects can pay off. Keeping focus and pace requires discipline. It's where good management has a big role to play, by motivating, inspiring, enthusing, energising and developing members of your team.

Leadership in this phase has two effects - it magnifies the levels of energy brought to the immediate task, and it develops people as

effective leaders so that more tasks, and bigger jobs, can be handled in the future.

Here, too, it is easy to limit ourselves. Try asking yourselves:

l How strong are we in asking for everything we want?

l How good are we at making big requests of


l How readily do we give those on our team

constructive feedback to enable them to

improve their performance continually?

l Where on our priority list do we place regular

involvement in the ongoing development of others as leaders?

l How good are we at celebrating success?

How many times have you said to yourself, "Oh, it's easier just to do it myself" or, "They are too busy, so I won't ask them". Of course, there will be things you need to do for yourself, but don't start from that assumption.

You can't do all of this leadership stuff alone. The increasing challenges of leading others today means that you have to have support. You need others to help you know your shadow.

And there will be times when you encounter setbacks: you're stuck and can't see the way ahead. This is when colleagues can help you see the bigger picture, let off steam and re-

energise. It's all fairly simple, but it's not easy.

Leadership is all about energy. Management focuses on the detail of what we need to do, while the leader frees his or her own and others' energy, aligning it with key goals, nurturing it in groups, teams and partnerships, and focusing it on specific targets, while directing some of it towards ongoi

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