You’ve trained for it. You’ve spent years studying, amassing the experience that has put you in your current position to use your leadership skills. And yet, if you are like most leaders, you constantly ask yourself, “Am I an effective leader?” “Am I doing enough to coach my team, my department, and my employees towards peak performance?” And, ultimately, “How can I be more?” The opportunity for you to “be more” and “do more” can be further explored by learning to identify your strengths— and areas that need a little attention— so you become the leader you choose to be. By understanding the psychology behind the habits, attitudes, beliefs and expectations that inform the human decision-making process; you will be miles ahead as you solve organisational “people issues” at their root cause; the human thought process and all that can affect it.
Once you change the inside — the internal belief system that controls your ability to make things happen and the release of innate skills and talents — the outside will automatically follow. You see things you overlooked before, and seize opportunities that once seemed “impossible”. As a leader, situations arise —almost daily— that require you to rely on your knowledge and experience. If you rely on the “tried and true”, then your decisions have a consistency based on the past. You simply repeat what you have always known, and you are unable to move forward. It’s alright to stay the same if that is all you want. But if you want to move ahead, and move your organisation ahead, you will want to shift how you think, and what you think about.
As a leader, if you want your employees or team members to be alert and aware of new opportunities, then you want to work on how you lead — especially what you say, the words you use. Are you inadvertently causing your staff to focus on one outcome, thereby blocking out everything else? If you are, what do you want to do to fix this? Here in Rwanda, organisations that are going to thrive long into the future are the ones that are not afraid to set big goals, trusting in their employees — their stakeholders — to find what is needed to continue to compete against the rest of the world. These individuals, working together, will find solutions to the obstacles in their way. You have around you a variety of people who think differently. They come from different backgrounds, with different educations, and different learning styles. This is a good thing, and creates a culture that effective leadership encourages. If everyone thinks the same way, everyone will miss the same opportunities. By encouraging diversity of
thought, you have a much better chance of finding new, effective ways of doing business. Leadership doesn’t know everything. Accepting this, you as a leader can empower your workforce, and put everyone working toward solutions. Have them contribute ideas. Understand that each idea represents “a way” to get something accomplished. Sometimes, there are dozens of ways to look at challenges, and each solution is “a way”. If you lock on to one way, you run the risk of missing a quicker, less expensive, more effective way.
Unfreeze your mind.
The writer is the Executive Director, The Pacific Institute South Africa