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Helen Green

Quest Leadership

Leadership Collaborator

Read more from Helen Green

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Selling leadership

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Does leadership require you to be ‘all things to all men’? It’s an interesting question and it is one perhaps best answered by a quick look at the nature of leadership. You see, whilst great leadership requires you to be authentic, to be true to yourself, great leaders also know that you do not lead in a vacuum. At the end of the day is the people that you lead, the way in which you engage their hearts and minds, how you empower them, how you enthuse them that matters most.

This can pose problems for even the greatest of leaders. On the one hand your people have to trust in your leadership ethos and style and that requires a certain amount of consistency. On the other hand different individuals, different departments may need something different from their leaders in order to help them to deliver of their best.

The retail challenge

Let me give you an example, leading a retail company. The outsider may say oh you’re in sales and therefore all of your leadership style should be geared towards maximising sales revenue, to promoting the selling ethos, perhaps allied to customer excellence. But a retail company isn’t solely made up of salespeople. You’ve still got HR and IT and accounts; in fact all of the trappings of the majority of organisations. And even if we zoom in to the shop floor itself we have merchandisers and display specialists, till operatives and shelf stackers, product leaders and team leaders; all with differing needs, approaches and attitudes.

Do you act ‘pally’ with one group, autocratic with another; are the timetables and targets you imposed to be strictly adhered to by some departments, allowed to slide by others? And that’s before we take your own background into account and remember that you are more likely to be in tune with one area than another.

Being true to yourself

This all sounds like a recipe for disaster and indeed it could be. Because whilst true leadership requires you to help others to give their best, it doesn’t require you to change at whim to be more like the people who you are leading. As a true leader your people have to both trust in you as a person and trust that you can help them to achieve the vision and values of the organisation. So your job is to be true to yourself, and to use your abilities to model the way, to challenge, to inspire, to enable and to encourage.

When you are true to yourself, when you adopt the practices of great leadership then irrespective of the organisation which you are leading, you will be able to engage hearts and minds in the furtherance of the organisation’s aims. Yes, on a practical level, your people will need some form of coaching in helping them to bring their own talents to bear for the benefit of the organisation.

So whilst some may require coaching in areas such as communication skills or customer empathy, others may benefit more from project management or reasoning or teamwork skills. And some may benefit most from one-to-one coaching whilst others may need a blended learning programme or group workshop. But although the coaching approach may vary, at heart you are still helping your people to improve.

Being all things to all men doesn’t mean changing yourself or adopting a scattergun approach. Rather it means being authentic in your leadership style as you deploy a variety of approaches to meet individual needs. When you are true to yourself, that’s when you can truly help and inspire and lead others.

Author Profile Picture
Helen Green

Leadership Collaborator

Read more from Helen Green
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