Theresa May, Sam Allardyce, Jan Frykhammer at Ericsson have all just taken on the top jobs in their field. They face the unforgiving scrutiny of the public gaze but what does it take for leaders to succeed?
Here are some top tips for first time leaders:
Act like a leader from day one
Set the tone of your leadership style and act like a leader from the outset. Be confident, self-assured and respectful. Speak to people as you want to be spoken to and remember to listen to them. People will develop opinions of you in the first few weeks, so work hard to earn trust and create the best impressions.
Set audacious goals
Part of a leaders remit is to set goals that are bold and audacious. Such goals could take years to achieve but they need to be specific enough that everyone in the organisation understands them, buys into them and works together to achieve them.
According to Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer there is still a ‘them and us’ type of culture within many organisations with employees feeling very distant from senior management. If this is happening in your organisation you need to stamp it out.
The message must be that ‘we’re all in this together’. Make people believe they are valued through improving employee engagement.
Trust employees with the truth
Don’t do everything yourself. Great leaders, like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson surround themselves with talented individuals who can offer their own solutions. Be upfront on where the business is heading. If things need changing, let people know and ensure they are involved in making the changes.
Leaders provide the vision and set the goals but they trust people to make it happen.
Let people learn from their mistakes
People learn by ‘doing’ and letting people work things out for themselves and making their own mistakes is part and parcel of growing as a person and an employee.
Innovation is crucial for all businesses so encourage creativity and new ideas and thinking. However make sure to set a time limit and that everyone knows the deadline for decisions.
Playing it safe rarely defines a great business. Taking risks and being radical in their thinking is what good leaders are paid for. Leaders need to make sure their business stays ahead of the game by acting quickly on new ideas and innovations.
Being indecisive can undermine confidence and trust. Leaders must lead, take a chance and make a decision based on the facts to hand at the time. This is the core skill of any successful leader.
Honour the roots of the business
Remember how the business started. It may have hundreds or thousands of employees now, but the beginning was probably much more humble. Honour the early pioneers and instil a sense of pride across the entire organisation.
Be passionate, enthusiastic, proud – BELIEVE
Practice what you preach and live and breathe your vision. Having a leader who is genuinely excited about the future of the company is hugely motivating and inspiring for people. It gets people’s buy in which is ultimately what’s needed for long term success.
By Stephen Archer, Partner, Spring Partnerships LLP